Transient elastography versus liver biopsy: discordance in evaluations for fibrosis and steatosis from a pathology standpoint

Jiayun M. Fang, Jerome Cheng, Michael F. Chang, Joseph Ahn, Maria Westerhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Vibration-controlled transient elastography (VCTE) is a non-invasive method of evaluating liver fibrosis and steatosis. It can easily be performed in the outpatient setting and has been suggested as an alternative to liver biopsy. However, VCTE and biopsy discrepancies commonly occur. Patient characteristics, procedure performance, and liver features can impact the reliability of VCTE results. We identified 82 patients who received VCTE and biopsy within one month to assess how frequently major discrepancies occur and to determine the role of the liver biopsy in this workup. In our study, 35.4% of patients had a major fibrosis discrepancy, which was defined as advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis by VCTE and no to minimal fibrosis on biopsy. This was significantly associated with increased BMI, and liver features including steatohepatitis, inflammation, congestion, and cholestasis were important contributors to discrepancies. All patients with advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis on liver biopsy were appropriately detected by VCTE (n = 28). Detection of steatosis was less sensitive as 19% (n = 4 of 21) of patients with moderate to severe steatosis on biopsy were missed by VCTE. Liver biopsy has been traditionally performed for diagnosis, but with the emergence of non-invasive tools to evaluate for liver fibrosis and steatosis, biopsies are now additionally being performed to confirm findings from noninvasive procedures. Although VCTE is a highly sensitive tool for liver fibrosis, it is not as specific, and therefore, the liver biopsy remains the gold standard for accurate fibrosis assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1955-1962
Number of pages8
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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