Transient elastography to assess liver stiffness in patients with inflammatory bowel disease

Berrie Meijer, Charlotte K. van Everdingen, Dewkoemar Ramsoekh, Catherine Stedman, Christopher M.A. Frampton, Chris J.J. Mulder, Gerd Bouma, Nanne K.H. de Boer, Richard B. Gearry

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Background: Liver injury during inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is primarily diagnosed by liver biopsy, which has a small but serious risk of severe complications. The aim of this study was to assess liver stiffness, and subsequently the prevalence and associations of liver fibrosis in IBD patients with thiopurine therapy and other clinical factors, by using transient elastography (TE). Methods: In this prospective, international two-center study, included IBD-patients underwent TE measurements. Laboratory results and medication reports, radiology results and historical liver biopsy results were extracted from the patient charts. Results: Transient elastography results of 168 patients were presented. Moderate and severe fibrosis were detected in 4% (7/168) and 1% (1/168) of the cohort, respectively. Factors contributing to lower liver stiffness were female gender and (historical) exposure to azathioprine. Further, there was a statistical trend towards lower liver stiffness in patients using thiopurines overall (4.7 vs. 5.2. kPa, p = 0.07). Liver stiffness correlated positively with waist circumference, liver enzyme tests, hemoglobin and 6-methylmercaptopurine concentration and negatively with platelet count. Conclusion: Exposure to thiopurine therapy was not associated with higher liver stiffness, although no clinical difference in severity of fibrosis was detected. Further research should robustly determine the accuracy of TE as an evaluation of liver fibrosis in IBD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-53
Number of pages6
JournalDigestive and liver disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Crohn's disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Liver fibrosis
  • Liver stiffness
  • Thiopurines
  • Transient elastography
  • Ulcerative colitis

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