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Dig Dis Sci. 2012 Aug;57(8):2222-30. doi: 10.1007/s10620-012-2153-0. Epub 2012 Apr 10.

Doppler ultrasound of hepatic blood flow for noninvasive evaluation of liver fibrosis compared with liver biopsy and transient elastography.

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Medical Department III (Gastroenterology, Metabolic Diseases and Intensive Care Medicine), University Hospital Aachen (RWTH), Pauwelstr. 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany.



Accurate quantification of liver fibrosis is essential for therapeutic decision-making and follow-up of chronic liver diseases.


To optimize the quality of non-invasive assessment of liver fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatopathy we compared Doppler ultrasound with liver histology and transient elastography (TE).


In this prospective observational study, we performed Doppler ultrasound of hepatic blood vessels as well as TE in 125 patients who underwent liver biopsy for diagnostic work-up of hepatopathy. Hepatic venous flow was evaluated by determining resistance index (HVRI) of the right hepatic vein. Doppler and TE results were compared with histological staging, grading and degree of steatosis obtained by liver biopsy.


HVRI showed a high reliability in predicting fibrosis stage FII or higher (AUROC 93.7 %, HVRI < 1.185; sensitivity 89.66 % and specificity 86.32 %) and was superior to TE. Neither steatosis nor inflammation had significant influence on HVRI-based estimation of fibrosis (1.45 ± 0.2; 1.26 ± 0.05; 1.06 ± 0.06; 0.87 ± 0.08; 0.46 ± 0.11 for F0-FIV, respectively). HVRI differed significantly in different stages of fibrosis. In contrast, portal vein and hepatic artery only showed significant changes in higher stages of fibrosis. Hepatic artery resistance index was elevated (0.67-0.74; p < 0.05); portal vein flow maximum and undulation were significantly reduced in higher fibrosis (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01, respectively).


Hepatic blood flow analysis, especially HVRI, provides useful information during assessment of hepatopathy and is a reliable predictor of liver fibrosis stage FII or higher as part of the non-invasive diagnostic work-up and follow-up in chronic liver disease.

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