Liver steatosis assessment: Correlations among pathology, radiology, clinical data and automated image analysis software

Michael J. Lee, Pelin Bagci, Jun Kong, Miriam B. Vos, Puneet Sharma, Bobby Kalb, Joel H. Saltz, Diego R. Martin, N. Volkan Adsay, Alton B. Farris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Quantitating hepatic steatosis is important in many liver diseases and liver transplantation. Since steatosis estimation by pathologists has inherent intra- and inter-observer variability, we compared and contrasted computerized techniques with magnetic resonance imaging measurements, pathologist visual scoring, and clinical parameters. Computerized methods applied to whole slide images included a commercial positive pixel count algorithm and a custom algorithm programmed at our institution. For all liver samples (n=59), including pediatric, adult, frozen section, and permanent specimens, statistically significant correlations were observed between pathology, radiology, and each image analysis modality (r=0.75-0.97, p<0.0001), with the strongest correlations in the pediatric cohort. Statistically significant relationships were observed between each method and with body mass index (r=0.37-0.56, p from <0.0001 to <0.05) and with albumin (r=0.55-0.64, p<0.05) but not with alanine aminotransferase or aspartate aminotransferase. Although pathologist assessments correlated (r=0.64-0.86, 0.92-0.97, and 0.78-0.91 for microvesicular, macrovesicular, and overall steatosis, respectively), the absolute values of hepatic steatosis visual assessment were susceptible to intra- and inter-observer variability, particularly for microvesicular steatosis. Image analysis, pathologist assessments, radiology measurements, and several clinical parameters all showed correlations in this study, providing evidence for the utility of each method in different clinical and research settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-379
Number of pages9
JournalPathology Research and Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Image analysis
  • Liver
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Morphometry
  • Steatosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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