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World J Gastroenterol. 2006 Jun 14;12(22):3461-5.

Role of microbubble ultrasound contrast agents in the non-invasive assessment of chronic hepatitis C-related liver disease.


Patients who are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus often develop chronic liver disease and assessment of the severity of liver injury is required prior to considering viral eradication therapy. This article examines the various assessment methods currently available from gold standard liver biopsy to serological markers and imaging. Ultrasound is one of the most widely used imaging modalities in clinical practice and is already a first-line diagnostic tool for liver disease. Microbubble ultrasound contrast agents allow higher resolution images to be obtained and functional assessments of microvascular change to be carried out. The role of these agents in quantifying the state of hepatic injury is discussed as a viable method of determining the stage and grade of liver disease in patients with hepatitis C. Although currently confined to specialist centres, the availability of microbubble contrast-enhanced ultrasound will inevitably increase in the clinical setting.

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