Published online May 14, 2020. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v26.i18.2247
Peer-review started: February 13, 2020
First decision: March 15, 2020
Revised: March 19, 2020
Accepted: April 24, 2020
Article in press: April 24, 2020
Published online: May 14, 2020
Computed tomography (CT), liver stiffness measurement (LSM), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are non-invasive diagnostic methods for esophageal varices (EV) and for the prediction of high-bleeding-risk EV (HREV) in cirrhotic patients. However, the clinical use of these methods is controversial.
To evaluate the accuracy of LSM, CT, and MRI in diagnosing EV and predicting HREV in cirrhotic patients.
We performed literature searches in multiple databases, including PubMed, Embase, Cochrane, CNKI, and Wanfang databases, for articles that evaluated the accuracy of LSM, CT, and MRI as candidates for the diagnosis of EV and prediction of HREV in cirrhotic patients. Summary sensitivity and specificity, positive likelihood ratio and negative likelihood ratio, diagnostic odds ratio, and the areas under the summary receiver operating characteristic curves were analyzed. The quality of the articles was assessed using the quality assessment of diagnostic accuracy studies-2 tool. Heterogeneity was examined by Q-statistic test and I2 index, and sources of heterogeneity were explored using meta-regression and subgroup analysis. Publication bias was evaluated using Deek’s funnel plot. All statistical analyses were conducted using Stata12.0, MetaDisc1.4, and RevMan5.3.
Overall, 18, 17, and 7 relevant articles on the accuracy of LSM, CT, and MRI in evaluating EV and HREV were retrieved. A significant heterogeneity was observed in all analyses (P < 0.05). The areas under the summary receiver operating characteristic curves of LSM, CT, and MRI in diagnosing EV and predicting HREV were 0.86 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.83-0.89), 0.91 (95%CI: 0.88-0.93), and 0.86 (95%CI: 0.83-0.89), and 0.85 (95%CI: 0.81-0.88), 0.94 (95%CI: 0.91-0.96), and 0.83 (95%CI: 0.79-0.86), respectively, with sensitivities of 0.84 (95%CI: 0.78-0.89), 0.91 (95%CI: 0.87-0.94), and 0.81 (95%CI: 0.76-0.86), and 0.81 (95%CI: 0.75-0.86), 0.88 (95%CI: 0.82-0.92), and 0.80 (95%CI: 0.72-0.86), and specificities of 0.71 (95%CI: 0.60-0.80), 0.75 (95%CI: 0.68-0.82), and 0.82 (95%CI: 0.70-0.89), and 0.73 (95%CI: 0.66-0.80), 0.87 (95%CI: 0.81-0.92), and 0.72 (95%CI: 0.62-0.80), respectively. The corresponding positive likelihood ratios were 2.91, 3.67, and 4.44, and 3.04, 6.90, and2.83; the negative likelihood ratios were 0.22, 0.12, and 0.23, and 0.26, 0.14, and 0.28; the diagnostic odds ratios were 13.01, 30.98, and 19.58, and 11.93, 49.99, and 10.00. CT scanner is the source of heterogeneity. There was no significant difference in diagnostic threshold effects (P > 0.05) or publication bias (P > 0.05).
Based on the meta-analysis of observational studies, it is suggested that CT imaging, a non-invasive diagnostic method, is the best choice for the diagnosis of EV and prediction of HREV in cirrhotic patients compared with LSM and MRI.
Core tip: To date, endoscopy is regarded as the “gold standard” for diagnosis of esophageal varices (EV) and prediction of high-bleeding-risk EV (HREV) in cirrhotic patients. This study came into the conclusion that computed tomography has higher accuracy in diagnosing EV and predicting HREV than liver stiffness measurement and magnetic resonance imaging in cirrhotic patients. It is suggested that computed tomography, a non-invasive diagnostic method, is the best choice for diagnosing EV and predicting HREV in cirrhotic patients compared with liver stiffness measurement and magnetic resonance imaging. However, in future, the head-to-head comparisons of these imaging tools in the same series of patients are required to confirm the predictive value, especially by using artificial intelligence technique.