A new screening strategy for varices by liver and spleen stiffness measurement (LSSM) in cirrhotic patients: A randomized trial

2017 Liver International In Press;

BACKGROUND: Variceal bleeding is a common and life-threatening complication in patients with cirrhosis. Screening with upper endoscopy is recommended but is uncomfortable to patients. Non-invasive assessment with transient elastography for liver/spleen stiffness measurement (LSM and SSM) is accurate in detecting varices. AIMS: To test the hypothesis that a new screening strategy for varices guided by LSM/SSM results (LSSM-guided) is non-inferior to universal endoscopic screening in detecting clinically significant varices in patients with cirrhosis. METHODS: This was a non-inferiority, open-label, randomized controlled trial. Adult patients with known chronic liver diseases, radiological evidence of cirrhosis and compensated liver function. The primary outcome was clinically significant varix diagnosed with upper endoscopy. RESULTS: Between October 2013 and June 2016, 548 patients were randomized to LSSM arm (n = 274) and conventional arm (n = 274) which formed the intention-to-test (ITT) population. Patients in both study arms were predominantly middle-aged men with viral hepatitis-related cirrhosis in 85% of the cases. In the ITT analysis, 11/274 participants in the LSSM arm (4.0%) and 16/274 in the conventional arm (5.8%) were found to have clinically significant varices. The difference between two groups was -1.8% (90% CI, -4.9% to -1.2%, P < .001). The absolute difference in the number of patients with clinically significant varices detected was 5/16 (31.3%) fewer in the LSSM arm. CONCLUSIONS: Non-inferiority of the LSSM-guided screening strategy to the convention approach cannot be excluded by this RCT. This approach should be further evaluated in a cohort of larger sample size with more clinically significant varices.

Pubmed : 28853196