Background and aims: We aimed to determine the best algorithms for the diagnosis of significant fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients using all available parameters and tests.
Patients and methods: We used the database from our study of 507 patients with histologically proven CHC in which fibrosis was evaluated by liver biopsy (Metavir) and tests: Fibrometer®, Fibrotest®, Hepascore®, Apri, ELFG, MP3, Forn's, hyaluronic acid, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP1), MMP1, collagen IV and when possible Fibroscan™. For the first test we used 90% negative predictive value to exclude patients with F≤1, next an induction algorithm was applied giving the best tests with at least 80% positive predictive value for the diagnosis of F≥2. The algorithms were computed using the R Software C4.5 program to select the best tests and cut-offs. The algorithm was automatically induced without premises on the part of the investigators. We also examined the inter-observer variations after independent review of liver biopsies by two pathologists. A medico-economic analysis compared the screening strategies with liver biopsy.
Results: In "intention to diagnose" the best algorithms for F≥2 were Fibrometer ®, Fibrotest®, or Hepascore® in first intention with the ELFG score in second intention for indeterminate cases. The percentage of avoided biopsies varied between 50% (Fibrotest® or Fibrometer®+ELFG) and 51% (Hepascore®+ELFG). In "per-analysis" Fibroscan™+ELFG avoided liver biopsy in 55% of cases. The diagnostic performance of these screening strategies was statistically superior to the usual combinations (Fibrometer® or Fibrotest®+Fibroscan™) and was cost effective. We note that the consensual review of liver biopsies between the two pathologists was mainly in favor of F1 (64-69%).
Conclusion: The ELFG test could replace Fibroscan in most currently used algorithms for the diagnosis of significant fibrosis including for those patients for whom Fibroscan™ is unusable.