Non-invasive assessment of liver fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C

2011 Hepatology International 5;2 (625-634)

Quantification of hepatic fibrosis is of critical importance in chronic hepatitis C not only for prognosis, but also for antiviral treatment indication. Two end points are clinically relevant: detection of significant fibrosis (indication for antiviral treatment) and detection of cirrhosis (screening for eosphageal varices and hepatocellular carcinoma). Until recently, liver biopsy was considered the reference method for the evaluation of liver fibrosis. Limitations of liver biopsy (invasiveness, sampling error, and inter-observer variability) have led to the development of non-invasive methods. Currently available methods rely on two different approaches: a "biological" approach based on the dosage of serum fibrosis biomarkers; and a "physical" approach based on the measurement of liver stiffness, using transient elastography (TE). This review is aimed at discussing the advantages and limits of non-invasive methods and liver biopsy and the perspectives for their rational use in clinical practice in the management of patients with chronic hepatitis C.

Pubmed : 21484142