Transient elastography (TE) is a valuable noninvasive technique of measuring liver stiffness and a reliable tool for predicting hepatic fibrosis in patients with chronic liver disease. The role of TE in patients with β-thalassemia has not been extensively investigated. The present study aimed to evaluate the role of TE in the assessment of hepatic fibrosis in 115 adult patients with β-thalassemia major (TM) (#59) or intermedia (TI) (#56). TE was performed according to current practice. Histologic data were obtained in 14 cases. Liver iron concentration was assessed by atomic absorption spectrometry and T2* magnetic resonance. In patients with TM, the proportion of anti-HCV positive viremic patients, median serum ferritin levels, and TE values were significantly higher than in TI. In the group of 14 patients who underwent liver biopsy, a significant positive correlation was observed between liver stiffness and fibrosis stage (r = 0.73, P = 0.003). Severe fibrosis is diagnosed with a sensitivity of 60% and a specificity of 89%, whereas cirrhosis is detected with a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 92%. At multivariate analysis, the variables independently associated with TE were ALT, GGT, and bilirubin levels in both groups and, in patients with TM, HCV RNA positivity. In β-thalassemia patients, TE is a reliable tool for assessing liver fibrosis even if the influence of iron overload has to be clarified.
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