Cost-Effective Evaluation of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease With NAFLD Fibrosis Score and Vibration Controlled Transient Elastography

2015 American Journal of Gastroenterology 110;9 (1298-1304)

OBJECTIVES: The risk of advanced fibrosis in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is traditionally assessed with a liver biopsy, which is both costly and associated with adverse events. METHODS: We sought to compare the cost-effectiveness of four different strategies to assess fibrosis risk in patients with NAFLD: vibration controlled transient elastography (VCTE), the NAFLD fibrosis score (NFS), combination testing with NFS and VCTE, and liver biopsy (usual care). We developed a probabilistic decision analytical microsimulation state-transition model wherein we simulated a cohort of 10,000 50-year-old Americans with NAFLD undergoing evaluation by a gastroenterologist. VCTE performance was obtained from a prospective cohort of 144 patients with NAFLD. RESULTS: Both the NFS alone and the NFS/VCTE strategies were cost effective at $5,795 and $5,768 per quality-adjusted life years (QALY), respectively. In the microsimulation, the NFS alone and NFS/VCTE strategies were the most cost-effective (dominant) in 66.8 and 33.2% of samples given a willingness-to-pay threshold of $100,000 per QALY. In a sensitivity analysis, the minimum cost per liver biopsy at which the NFS is cost saving is $339 and the maximum cost per VCTE exam at which the NFS/VCTE strategy remains cost saving is $1,593. The expected value of further research on this topic is $526 million. CONCLUSIONS: Non-invasive risk stratification with both the NFS alone and the NFS/VCTE are cost-effective strategies for the evaluation and management of patients with NAFLD presenting to a gastroenterologist. Further research is needed to better define the natural history of NAFLD and the effect of novel treatments on decision making.

Pubmed : 26303130