Heterogeneous liver on research ultrasound identifies children with cystic fibrosis at high risk of advanced liver disease

Marilyn J. Siegel, Daniel H. Leung, Jean P. Molleston, Wen Ye, Shruti M. Paranjape, A. Jay Freeman, Joseph J. Palermo, Janis Stoll, Prakash Masand, Boaz Karmazyn, Roger Harned, Simon C. Ling, Oscar M. Navarro, Wikrom Karnsakul, Adina Alazraki, Sarah Jane Schwarzenberg, Alex J. Towbin, Estella M. Alonso, Jennifer Lynn Nicholas, Nicole GreenRandolph K. Otto, John C. Magee, Michael R. Narkewicz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: This study examines whether heterogeneous (HTG) pattern on liver ultrasound (US) identifies children at risk for advanced cystic fibrosis liver disease (aCFLD). Methods: Prospective 6-year multicenter case-controlled cohort study. Children with pancreatic insufficient cystic fibrosis (CF) aged 3–12 years without known cirrhosis underwent screening US. Participants with HTG were matched (by age, Pseudomonas infection status and center) 1:2 with participants with normal (NL) US pattern. Clinical status and laboratory data were obtained annually and US bi-annually for 6 years. Primary endpoint was development of nodular (NOD) US pattern consistent with aCFLD. Results: 722 participants underwent screening US, with 65 HTG and 592 NL. Final cohort included 55 HTG and 116 NL with ≥ 1 follow-up US. ALT, AST, GGTP, FIB-4, GPR and APRI were higher, and platelets were lower in HTG compared to NL. HTG had a 9.5-fold increased incidence (95% confidence interval [CI]:3.4, 26.7, p<0.0001, 32.7% vs 3.4%) of NOD versus NL. HTG had a sensitivity of 82% and specificity of 75% for subsequent NOD. Negative predictive value of a NL US for subsequent NOD was 96%. Multivariate logistic prediction model that included baseline US, age, and log(GPR) improved the C-index to 0.90 compared to only baseline US (C-index 0.78). Based on survival analysis, 50% of HTG develop NOD after 8 years. Conclusions: Research US finding of HTG identifies children with CF with a 30–50% risk for aCFLD. A score based on US pattern, age and GPR may refine the identification of individuals at high risk for aCFLD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-755
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cystic Fibrosis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Cirrhosis
  • Cystic fibrosis liver disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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