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J Hepatol. 2017 Aug;67(2):399-411. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2017.02.003. Epub 2017 Feb 14.

Non-invasive evaluation of portal hypertension using ultrasound elastography.

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Swiss Liver Center, Hepatology, University Clinic for Visceral Surgery and Medicine, Inselspital, University of Bern, Switzerland. Electronic address:


Portal hypertension (PH) leads to serious complications, such as bleeding from gastroesophageal varices, ascites and portosystemic encephalopathy in patients with chronic liver disease (CLD). Gold standard methods for assessing PH and its complications include the measurement of hepatic venous pressure gradient and endoscopy; however, these are invasive, expensive and not available at all centres. Therefore, non-invasive alternatives have been the subject of extensive investigation over the last 20years. The present review focuses on the role of ultrasound elastography - a novel group of non-invasive techniques used to measure stiffness in target organs. In the context of CLD these methods are used to identify the presence of PH, its severity, and the risk of PH-related complications. The rationale, accumulated evidence, advantages and limitations of liver and spleen stiffness measurements evaluated by different ultrasound elastography techniques in patients with advanced CLD is discussed. Recent data regarding the use of ultrasound elastography techniques in patients with non-cirrhotic forms of PH are also described.


Advanced chronic liver disease; Cirrhosis; Decompensation; Non-invasive; Varices

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