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Reader agreement and accuracy of ultrasound features for hepatic steatosis.

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The purpose of the study is to assess the reader agreement and accuracy of eight ultrasound imaging features for classifying hepatic steatosis in adults with known or suspected hepatic steatosis.


This was an IRB-approved, HIPAA-compliant prospective study of adult patients with known or suspected hepatic steatosis. All patients signed written informed consent. Ultrasound images (Siemens S3000, 6C1HD, and 4C1 transducers) were acquired by experienced sonographers following a standard protocol. Eight readers independently graded eight features and their overall impression of hepatic steatosis on ordinal scales using an electronic case report form. Duplicated images from the 6C1HD transducer were read twice to assess intra-reader agreement. Intra-reader, inter-transducer, and inter-reader agreement were assessed using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC). Features with the highest intra-reader agreement were selected as predictors for dichotomized histological steatosis using Classification and Regression Tree (CART) analysis, and the accuracy of the decision rule was compared to the accuracy of the radiologists' overall impression.


45 patients (18 males, 27 females; mean age 56 ± 12 years) scanned from September 2015 to July 2016 were included. Mean intra-reader ICCs ranged from 0.430 to 0.777, inter-transducer ICCs ranged from 0.228 to 0.640, and inter-reader ICCs ranged from 0.014 to 0.561. The CART decision rule selected only large hepatic vein blurring and achieved similar accuracy to the overall impression (74% to 75% and 68% to 72%, respectively).


Large hepatic vein blurring, liver-kidney contrast, and overall impression provided the highest reader agreement. Large hepatic vein blurring may provide the highest classification accuracy for dichotomized grading of hepatic steatosis.

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