Capacity of non-invasive hepatic fibrosis algorithms to replace transient elastography to exclude cirrhosis in people with hepatitis C virus infection: A multi-centre observational study

2018 PLoS ONE 13;2 (e0192763)

INTRODUCTION: Achievement of the 2030 World Health Organisation (WHO) global hepatitis C virus (HCV) elimination targets will be underpinned by scale-up of testing and use of direct-acting antiviral treatments. In Australia, despite publically-funded testing and treatment, less than 15% of patients were treated in the first year of treatment access, highlighting the need for greater efficiency of health service delivery. To this end, non-invasive fibrosis algorithms were examined to reduce reliance on transient elastography (TE) which is currently utilised for the assessment of cirrhosis in most Australian clinical settings. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This retrospective and prospective study, with derivation and validation cohorts, examined consecutive patients in a tertiary referral centre, a sexual health clinic, and a prison-based hepatitis program. The negative predictive value (NPV) of seven non-invasive algorithms were measured using published and newly derived cut-offs. The number of TEs avoided for each algorithm, or combination of algorithms, was determined. RESULTS: The 850 patients included 780 (92%) with HCV mono-infection, and 70 (8%) co-infected with HIV or hepatitis B. The mono-infected cohort included 612 men (79%), with an overall prevalence of cirrhosis of 16% (125/780). An 'APRI' algorithm cut-off of 1.0 had a 94% NPV (95%CI: 91-96%). Newly derived cut-offs of 'APRI' (0.49), 'FIB-4' (0.93) and 'GUCI' (0.5) algorithms each had NPVs of 99% (95%CI: 97-100%), allowing avoidance of TE in 40% (315/780), 40% (310/780) and 40% (298/749) respectively. When used in combination, NPV was retained and TE avoidance reached 54% (405/749), regardless of gender or co-infection. CONCLUSIONS: Non-invasive algorithms can reliably exclude cirrhosis in many patients, allowing improved efficiency of HCV assessment services in Australia and worldwide.