Portable Ultrasonography to Assess Adult Hepatosteatosis in Rural Ecuador

Boris Joutovsky, OMS II; Alexander Ortiz, OMS II; Camille Bentley, DO; and Jing Gao, MD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Accepted: June 5, 2019

Published: August 7, 2020

J Osteopath Med; 120(9): 553-559

Context: Hepatosteatosis (HS) is prevalent worldwide and can be measured via ultrasonographic (US) hepatic-renal (H/R) echo-intensity ratio.

Objectives: To examine the incidence of HS in rural communities of the Ecuadorian Chimborazo region and to validate portable US as an effective method of disease screening in rural settings.

Methods: Sagittal right liver/kidney B-mode US was performed in individuals from 4 villages using a portable US scanner equipped with a 3.5-MHz curvilinear probe. National Institutes of Health ImageJ software was used to computerize tissue echogenicity in both renal cortex and hepatic parenchyma offline. Regions of interest of 900 pixels were used for measuring pixel intensity of the right renal cortex and hepatic parenchyma when calculating the H/R ratio. The difference in pixel intensity between liver parenchyma and renal cortex was analyzed using an unpaired t test. The intraclass correlation coefficient was used to test intra- and interobserver reliability for computerizing the H/R ratio.

Results: Forty patients were enrolled in the study (32 women and 8 men; mean age, 40 years). The mean (SD) H/R ratio of study patients was 3.61 (2.32), moderately higher than normal (normal, H/R <1.5). A significant difference was found in mean (SD) pixel value between hepatic parenchyma and renal cortex (52.82 [15.34] vs 19.93 [10.39]; P<.001). Thirty-four patients (85%) had an H/R ratio greater than 1.5. The intra- and interobserver reliability of computerizing H/R ratio was excellent (r=0.940; P<.01).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that HS is moderately present in persons in remote communities of Ecuador. The mean H/R ratio was greater than that in the diagnostic criteria for the disease. Portable US imaging may benefit these communities as an efficient method for the HS screening and diagnosis in rural areas.

Read Full Article