Is it possible to predict HCV-related liver cirrhosis non-invasively through routine laboratory parameters?

2014 Le Infezioni in Medicina 22;1 (11-18)

It is estimated that hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects chronically about 160 million people worldwide. Between 15 and 56% of these chronic carriers will evolve towards liver cirrhosis during their lifetimes. In managing subjects with HCV chronic infection, it is crucial to perform accurate staging of the disease and specifically to ascertain whether or not they have liver cirrhosis for at least three reasons: 1) the presence of cirrhosis has prognostic relevance as it entails a relatively high risk of developing decompensation (e.g., ascites, encephalopathy, jaundice, oesophageal variceal bleeding) or evolution toward hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); 2) the presence of liver cirrhosis is the main indication for urgent treatment and paradoxically a factor predicting a poor response to currently available therapies. The timing of therapy is particular important considering that the new era of interferon-free antivirals will be a reality in a few years; 3) finally, in the presence of liver cirrhosis current guidelines recommend periodical screening for the presence of oesophageal varices and HCC. With the exception of the most advanced stages, the diagnosis of liver cirrhosis is obtained by performing a percutaneous liver biopsy, which is an invasive technique and therefore is associated with a low but non-negligible rate of complications and even death. Finally, it has a non-null rate of false negative for the diagnosis of liver cirrhosis when compared with surgical biopsy. For these reasons several authors have devised non-invasive scores to predict cirrhosis using different means. The most useful are based on liver stiffness (fibroscan), on a panel of blood tests and a proprietary algorithm (fibrotest) or on routinely available parameters. This review focuses on the different scores based on routine parameters that differ in their ease of calculation, in their diagnostic power and in the information provided. Further studies are required to compare the diagnostic performance of different non-invasive scores with the histologic evaluation and other non-invasive methods (fibroscan or fibrotest) on independent cohorts of patients.

Pubmed : 24651085