Ultrasound-based transient elastography (TE) is a promising noninvasive alternative to liver biopsy for the detection of hepatic fibrosis due to recurrent hepatitis C virus (HCV) after liver transplantation (LT). However, its overall test performance in various settings remains unknown. The aim of this study was to perform a systematic review and diagnostic accuracy meta-analysis of studies comparing ultrasound-based TE to liver biopsy for the detection of hepatic fibrosis due to a recurrent HCV infection after LT. Electronic and manual bibliographic searches (including scientific abstracts) were performed to identify potential studies. A meta-analysis was conducted to generate pooled estimates of the sensitivity values, specificity values, likelihood ratios, and diagnostic odds ratios of individual studies. The extent of the heterogeneity and the reasons for it were assessed. Six fully published studies were identified for analysis. Five studies that evaluated significant fibrosis were identified. Among these studies, the pooled estimates were 83% for sensitivity [95% confidence interval (CI) = 77%-88%], 83% for specificity (95% CI = 77%-88%), 4.95 for the positive likelihood ratio (95% CI = 3.4-7.2), 0.17 for the negative likelihood ratio (95% CI = 0.09-0.35), and 30.5 for the diagnostic odds ratio (95% CI = 12.8-72.4). For the 5 studies that assessed cirrhosis, the pooled estimates were 98% for sensitivity (95% CI = 90%-100%), 84% for specificity (95% CI = 80%-88%), 7 for the positive likelihood ratio (95% CI = 2.8-17.3), 0.06 for the negative likelihood ratio (95% CI = 0.02-0.19), and 130 for the diagnostic odds ratio (95% CI = 36.5-462.1). A diagnostic threshold (or cutoff value) bias was identified as an important cause of heterogeneity for the pooled results of both patient groups. In conclusion, ultrasound-based TE has excellent diagnostic accuracy for identifying cirrhosis due to a recurrent HCV infection after LT. The detection of significant fibrosis is more accurate for these patients versus patients whose native liver is chronically infected with HCV.
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