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Comparative diagnostic performance of ultrasound shear wave elastography and magnetic resonance elastography for classifying fibrosis stage in adults with biopsy-proven nonalcoholic fatty liver disease



To compare the diagnostic accuracy of US shear wave elastography (SWE) and magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) for classifying fibrosis stage in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).


Patients from a prospective single-center cohort with clinical liver biopsy for known or suspected NAFLD underwent contemporaneous SWE and MRE. AUCs for classifying biopsy-determined liver fibrosis stages ≥ 1, ≥ 2, ≥ 3, and = 4, and their respective performance parameters at cutoffs providing ≥ 90% sensitivity or specificity were compared between SWE and MRE.


In total, 100 patients (mean age, 51.8 ± 12.9 years; 46% males; mean BMI 31.6 ± 4.7 kg/m2) with fibrosis stage distribution (stage 0/1/2/3/4) of 43, 36, 5, 10, and 6%, respectively, were included. AUCs (and 95% CIs) for SWE and MRE were 0.65 (0.54-0.76) and 0.81 (0.72-0.89), 0.81 (0.71-0.91) and 0.94 (0.89-1.00), 0.85 (0.74-0.96) and 0.95 (0.89-1.00), and 0.91 (0.79-1.00) and 0.92 (0.83-1.00), for detecting fibrosis stage ≥ 1, ≥ 2, ≥ 3, and = 4, respectively. The differences were significant for detecting fibrosis stage ≥ 1 and ≥ 2 (p < 0.01) but not otherwise. At ≥ 90% sensitivity cutoff, MRE yielded higher specificity than SWE at diagnosing fibrosis stage ≥ 1, ≥ 2, and ≥ 3. At ≥ 90% specificity cutoff, MRE yielded higher sensitivity than SWE at diagnosing fibrosis stage ≥ 1 and ≥ 2.


In adults with NAFLD, MRE was more accurate than SWE in diagnosing stage ≥ 1 and ≥ 2 fibrosis, but not stage ≥ 3 or 4 fibrosis.

Key points

• For detecting any fibrosis or mild fibrosis, MR elastography was significantly more accurate than shear wave elastography. • For detecting advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis, MRE and SWE did not differ significantly in accuracy. • For excluding advanced fibrosis and potentially ruling out the need for biopsy, SWE and MRE did not differ significantly in negative predictive value. • Neither SWE nor MRE had sufficiently high positive predictive value to rule in advanced fibrosis.

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