BACKGROUND & AIMS: The diagnostic accuracy of non-invasive liver fibrosis tests that may replace liver biopsy in patients with chronic hepatitis remains controversial. We assessed and compared the accuracy of FibroScan� and that of the main biomarkers used for predicting cirrhosis and significant fibrosis (METAVIR?F2) in patients with chronic viral hepatitis.
METHODS: A multicenter prospective cross-sectional diagnostic accuracy study was conducted in the Hepatology departments of 23 French university hospitals. Index tests and reference standard (METAVIR fibrosis score on liver biopsy) were measured on the same day and interpreted blindly. Consecutive patients with chronic viral hepatitis (hepatitis B or C virus, including possible Human Immunodeficiency Virus co-infection) requiring liver biopsy were recruited in the study.
RESULTS: The analysis was first conducted on the total population (1839 patients), and after excluding 532 protocol deviations, on 1307 patients (non-compliant FibroScan� examinations). The overall accuracy of FibroScan� was high (AUROC 0.89 and 0.90, respectively) and significantly higher than that of biomarkers in predicting cirrhosis (AUROC 0.77-0.86). All non-invasive methods had a moderate accuracy in predicting significant fibrosis (AUROC 0.72-0.78). Based on multilevel likelihood ratios, non-invasive tests provided a relevant gain in the likelihood of diagnosis in 0-60% of patients (cirrhosis) and 9-30% of patients (significant fibrosis).
CONCLUSIONS: The diagnostic accuracy of non-invasive tests was high for cirrhosis, but poor for significant fibrosis. A clinically relevant gain in the likelihood of diagnosis was achieved in a low proportion of patients. Although the diagnosis of cirrhosis may rely on non-invasive tests, liver biopsy is warranted to diagnose intermediate stages of fibrosis.