Liver stiffness and steatosis in preeclampsia as shown by transient elastography–a prospective cohort study

Michal Carmiel Haggai, Inshirah Sgayer, Jacob Bornstein, Marwan Odeh, Lior Lowenstein, Maya Frank Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Preeclampsia is a multisystem disorder and the leading cause of severe morbidity and death in pregnancy. Liver involvement in preeclampsia ranges from elevated liver enzyme levels to hepatic infarction or rupture. Endothelial dysfunction leads to changes in blood flow and congestion and may be involved in the pathophysiology of preeclampsia. Changes in splanchnic blood flow and portal congestion can lead to altered liver stiffness. Transient elastography is a noninvasive, ultrasound-based technique that measures organ stiffness and steatosis and is therefore widely used in clinical hepatology. Previous studies reported elevated liver stiffness and liver steatosis, as measured by transient elastography, in women with preeclampsia. Objective: This study followed changes in liver stiffness and steatosis, as measured by transient elastography, from the antepartum period to 1-week postpartum among women with preeclampsia compared with healthy controls and evaluated the association between preeclampsia severity and transient elastography results. Study Design: This prospective cohort study was conducted from 2017 through 2021. The study group comprised women with preeclampsia, and the control group comprised healthy pregnant women hospitalized for other reasons. All the participants underwent transient elastography either on diagnosis of preeclampsia (study group) or on hospital admission (control group) and again in the postpartum period. Liver stiffness measurements are expressed in kilopascals (kPa) in the range of 2.5 to 75 kPa, and liver steatosis is expressed by controlled attenuation parameter in the range of 100 to 400 dB/m. Results: The study group comprised 36 women and the control group 37. Liver stiffness scores were significantly elevated in the study when compared with the control group, both in the antepartum period (P<.001) and the postpartum period (P=.025). Liver stiffness scores decreased significantly after delivery in the study and control groups (P<.001 and P=.002, respectively). Liver steatosis scores were higher in the study group than in the control group both in the antepartum and postpartum periods (P<.001 and P<.02, respectively). In the multivariable analysis, the diagnosis of preeclampsia correlated with higher antepartum liver stiffness scores (P=.005). For the study group, postpartum liver stiffness and liver steatosis scores were increased among those with vs those without severe features of preeclampsia (P=.03 and P=.04, respectively) Conclusion: Reductions in liver stiffness and steatosis from the antepartum to the postpartum period were documented in both the preeclampsia and control groups. However, both these measures were higher in the preeclampsia group and correlated with preeclampsia severity. Larger studies may be able to determine whether transient elastography can predict the severity of preeclampsia or other related metabolic conditions that correlate with chronic hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515.e1-515.e9
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

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© 2022 Elsevier Inc.


  • antepartum
  • congestion
  • endothelial dysfunction
  • liver steatosis
  • liver stiffness
  • postpartum
  • preeclampsia
  • transient elastography


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