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Inter-sonographer reproducibility of quantitative ultrasound outcomes and shear wave speed measured in the right lobe of the liver in adults with known or suspected non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

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To assess inter-sonographer reproducibility of ultrasound attenuation coefficient (AC), backscatter coefficient (BSC) and shear wave speed (SWS) in adults with known/suspected non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).


The institutional review board approved this HIPAA-compliant prospective study; informed consent was obtained. Participants with known/suspected NAFLD were recruited and underwent same-day liver examinations with a clinical scanner. Each participant was scanned by two of the six trained sonographers. Each sonographer performed multiple data acquisitions in the right liver lobe using a lateral intercostal approach. A data acquisition was a single operator button press that recorded a B-mode image, radio-frequency data, and the SWS value. AC and BSC were calculated from the radio-frequency data using the reference phantom method. SWS was calculated automatically using product software. Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and within-subject coefficient of variation (wCV) were calculated for applicable metrics.


Sixty-one participants were recruited. Inter-sonographer ICC was 0.86 (95% confidence interval: 0.77-0.92) for AC and 0.87 (0.78-0.92) for log-transformed BSC (logBSC = 10log10BSC) using one acquisition per sonographer. ICC was 0.88 (0.80-0.93) for both AC and logBSC averaging 5 acquisitions. ICC for SWS was 0.57 (0.29-0.74) using one acquisition per sonographer, and 0.84 (0.66-0.93) using 10 acquisitions. The wCV was ~7% for AC, and 19-43% for SWS, depending on number of acquisitions.


Hepatic AC, BSC and SWS measures on a clinical scanner have good inter-sonographer reproducibility in adults with known or suspected NAFLD. Multiple acquisitions are required for SWS but not AC or BSC to achieve good inter-sonographer reproducibility.

Key points

• AC, BSC and SWS measurements are reproducible in adults with NAFLD. • Inter-sonographer reproducibility of SWS measurement improves with more acquisitions being averaged. • Multiple acquisitions are required for SWS but not AC or BSC.

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