Background: The identification and subsequent management of liver diseases in children is challenging due to the lack of non-invasive imaging biomarkers. Ultrasound shear-wave elastography (US-SWE) is an emerging imaging technique which can quantitatively assess liver stiffness and may be useful as a tool in the management of liver disease in overweight and obese children. Purpose: To evaluate US-SWE velocities of the liver in normal-weight and obese children, to correlate US-SWE findings with age and body-mass-index (BMI), and to compare US-SWE values with qualitative assessment (i.e. normal versus abnormal echogenicity) of the liver by conventional US. Material and Methods: A cohort of 300 children (mean age, 9.9 ± 5.3 years; age range, 0.06–18.9 years) were studied, comprising 176 normal-weight and 124 obese participants. In each patient, both US-SWE and conventional US of the liver were obtained. Three pediatric radiologists individually and in consensus determined whether liver parenchyma was of normal or abnormal echogenicity. Results: US-SWE velocities differed between normal-weight and obese children (1.08 ± 0.14 versus 1.44 ± 0.39 m/s; P < 0.001), but not by gender. Multivariate linear regression demonstrated US-SWE velocity to be primarily associated with age in normal-weight children (P < 0.05) and with BMI in obese children (P < 0.001). In the obese group, mean US-SWE velocity was statistically higher in participants with abnormal echogenic livers than in those with normal-appearing livers (1.53 ± 0.38 vs. 1.17 ± 0.27). The difference was not significant in the normal-weight group. Conclusion: US-SWE provides a useful quantitative imaging biomarker for evaluating liver stiffness in children.
- liver stiffness
- shear-wave elastography
- Ultrasound elastography
- ultrasound velocity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging