Considerations of Ultrasound Scanning Approaches in Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Assessment through Acoustic Structure Quantification.


Department of Medical Imaging and Radiological Sciences, College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan; Institute for Radiological Research, Chang Gung University and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Linkou, Taoyuan, Taiwan; Department of Medical Imaging and Intervention, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Linkou, Taoyuan, Taiwan. Electronic address: [Email]


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a risk factor for hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis. Acoustic structure quantification (ASQ), based on statistical analysis of ultrasound echoes, is an emerging technique for hepatic steatosis diagnosis. A standardized measurement protocol for ASQ analysis was suggested previously; however, an optimal ultrasound scanning approach has not been concluded thus far. In this study, the suitability of scanning approaches for the ASQ-based evaluation of hepatic steatosis was investigated. Hepatic fat fractions (HFFs; liver segments VIII, III and VI) of 70 living liver donors were assessed with magnetic resonance spectroscopy. A clinical ultrasound machine equipped with a 3-MHz convex transducer was used to scan each participant using the intercostal, epigastric and subcostal planes to acquire raw data for estimating two ASQ parameters (Cm2 and focal disturbance [FD] ratio) of segments VIII, III and VI, respectively. The parameters were plotted as functions of the HFF for calculating the values of the correlation coefficient (r) and probability value (p). The diagnostic performance of the parameters in discriminating between the normal and steatotic (≥5 and ≥10%) groups was also compared using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves. The Cm2 and FD ratio values measured using the epigastric and subcostal planes did not correlate with the severity of hepatic steatosis. However, intercostal imaging exhibited a higher correlation between the ASQ parameters and HFF (r = -0.64, p < 0.001). The diagnostic performance of Cm2 and FD ratio in detecting hepatic steatosis using intercostal imaging was also satisfactory (areas under ROC curves >0.8). Intercostal imaging is an appropriate scanning approach for ASQ analysis of the liver.


Acoustic structure quantification,Amplitude envelope analysis,Fatty liver,Hepatic steatosis,Quantitative diagnosis,Ultrasound,