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The effect of hemodialysis on liver stiffness measurement: a single-center series

Kellner, Paul; Anadol, Evrim; Hüneburg, Robert; Hundt, Felix; Bös, Dominik; Klein, Burkhard; Woitas, Rainer P.; Spengler, Ulrich; Sauerbruch, Tilman; Trebicka, Jonel

European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology: March 2013 - Volume 25 - Issue 3 - p 368–372
doi: 10.1097/MEG.0b013e32835ad180
Original Articles: Complicated Liver Disorders

Background/aims The noninvasive measurement of liver stiffness using transient elastography (TE) is increasingly being used alongside liver biopsy. However, several conditions may lead to higher liver stiffness values without reflecting more fibrosis. Such conditions (e.g. hepatitis, cholestasis, heart failure, mechanical ventilation) limit the interpretation of liver stiffness measurements. The influence of hemodialysis on the measurement of liver stiffness has not been investigated to date. Here, we analyzed liver stiffness assessed by fibroscan in 17 patients directly before and after a hemodialysis session.

Patients and methods Measurement of hepatic stiffness by TE was carried out using the Fibroscan device with the ‘M probe’ directly before and directly after one session of hemodialysis. Each measurement consisted of at least 10 individual and valid measurements, with a success rate of at least 60%, and an interquartile range of less than 25%. All measurements were carried out by one investigator not involved in patient management.

Results Before dialysis, the median TE was 5.1 kPa (2.8–17 kPa). Ten patients had values below the threshold of 7.1 kPa and seven patients had TE>7.1 kPa. The median net fluid withdrawal by hemodialysis was 2.5 l (0.4–3.1 l) and did not differ between patients. After dialysis, the TE median was 7.4 kPa (3.5–12.5 kPa) and had changed in all patients except one. Liver stiffness increased significantly when the initial TE was lower than 7.1 kPa (P=0.05), but not when the initial TE was higher than 7.1 kPa. Furthermore, the magnitude of the change in TE after hemodialysis correlated inversely with the liver stiffness before hemodialysis (P=0.03) and with spleen length measured by ultrasound (P=0.03).

Conclusion This study is the first to report on the influence of hemodialysis on liver stiffness measurement. In contrast to previous reports, liver stiffness might increase after fluid withdrawal if patients do not show significant fibrosis. We conclude that before dialysis, TE possibly better differentiates between patients with or without significant fibrosis.

Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany

Correspondence to Jonel Trebicka, MD, Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Bonn, Sigmund-Freud Str. 25, D-53105 Bonn, Germany Tel: +49 228 287 15507; fax: +49 228 287 19718; e-mail:

Received August 31, 2012

Accepted September 26, 2012

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.