Noninvasive assessment of liver steatosis in children: The clinical value of controlled attenuation parameter

Giovanna Ferraioli, Valeria Calcaterra, Raffaella Lissandrin, Marinella Guazzotti, Laura Maiocchi, Carmine Tinelli, Annalisa De Silvestri, Corrado Regalbuto, Gloria Pelizzo, Daniela Larizza, Carlo Filice

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Background: To assess the clinical validity of controlled attenuation parameter (CAP) in the diagnosis of hepatic steatosis in a series of overweight or obese children by using the imperfect gold standard methodology. Methods: Consecutive children referred to our institution for auxological evaluation or obesity or minor elective surgery were prospectively enrolled. Anthropometric and biochemical parameters were recorded. Ultrasound (US) assessment of steatosis was carried out using ultrasound systems. CAP was obtained with the FibroScan 502 Touch device (Echosens, Paris, France). Pearson's or Spearman's rank correlation coefficient were used to test the association between two study variables. Optimal cutoff of CAP for detecting steatosis was 249dB/m. The diagnostic performance of dichotomized CAP, US, body mass indexes (BMI), fatty liver index (FLI) and hepatic steatosis index (HSI) was analyzed using the imperfect gold standard methodology. Results: Three hundred five pediatric patients were enrolled. The data of both US and CAP were available for 289 children. Steatosis was detected in 50/289 (17.3%) children by US and in 77/289 (26.6%) by CAP. A moderate to good correlation was detected between CAP and BMI (r=0.53), FLI (r=0.55) and HSI (r=0.56). In obese children a moderate to good correlation between CAP and insulin levels (r=0.54) and HOMA-IR (r=0.54) was also found. Dichotomized CAP showed a performance of 0.70 (sensitivity, 0.72 [0.64-0.79]; specificity, 0.98 [0.97-0.98], which was better than that of US (performance, 0.37; sensitivity, 0.46 [0.42-0.50]; specificity, 0.91 [0.89-0.92]), BMI (performance, 0.22; sensitivity, 0.75 [0.73-0.77]; specificity, 0.57 [0.55-0.60]) and FLI or HSI. Conclusions: For the evaluation of liver steatosis in children CAP performs better than US, which is the most widely used imaging technique for screening patients with a suspicion of liver steatosis. A cutoff value of CAP of 249dB/m rules in liver steatosis with a very high specificity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number61
JournalBMC Gastroenterology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 4 2017


  • Controlled attenuation parameter
  • Liver steatosis
  • Obesity
  • Pediatric series
  • Transient elastography
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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