Background: A significant number of patients have liver stiffness measurements in the grey zone where liver biopsy is recommended.
Aims: To study chronic hepatitis B patients with initial liver stiffness measurements in the grey zone with regards to rates of liver biopsy, repeat liver stiffness measurements and outcomes.
Methods: Consecutive chronic hepatitis B patients who underwent transient elastography from August 2006 to July 2017 were retrospectively studied. Liver-related events were defined as hepatocellular carcinoma or cirrhotic complications. Grey zone was defined as liver stiffness measurements: 6.1-9.0 kPa (normal ALT) or 7.6-12.0 kPa (ALT 1-5 × upper limit of normal) on M-probe and 6.9-10.0 kPa on XL-probe.
Results: Of the 3212 patients analysed, 837 (26%) had initial liver stiffness measurements in grey zone. Only 3.6% of grey zone patients proceeded to liver biopsy within 6 months of transient elastography, of which 33% had METAVIR F3-4 fibrosis. Repeat liver stiffness measurements was performed in 44% of grey zone patients. Liver biopsy and repeat liver stiffness measurements prompted change in management in 47% and 31% of patients respectively. Independent predictors for liver-related events in grey zone patients included increased age, low albumin and low platelet count. Liver-related events rates were increased (9%-17%) in patients with METAVIR > F2 fibrosis on biopsy or repeat liver stiffness measurements which did not improve.
Conclusions: Chronic hepatitis B patients with initial liver stiffness measurements in the grey zone rarely proceed to a clarifying liver biopsy which would reveal advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis in one-third of patients. Both liver biopsy and repeat liver stiffness measurements in grey zone patients have clinical utility in prompting changes in management and providing prognostic information.
Keywords: chronic hepatitis B; grey zone; liver stiffness measurement; liver-related events.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.