Scans preferable to liver biopsy in chronic hep C

NON-INVASIVE tests for liver fibrosis can accurately predict five-year survival of patients with chronic hepatitis C and help identify appropriate treatments, research confirms.

The non-invasive test assessed in the study, FibroScan, is gaining popularity because it is cheap, quick, effective and easily delivered, although it does not yet attract a Medicare rebate, Australian experts say.

Some 1400 patients with chronic hepatitis C were assessed for fibrosis and liver stiffness with non-invasive tests and liver biopsy and followed for five years.

The study was the first to show liver stiffness has a prognostic value for overall survival and survival without liver-related death in patients with chronic HCV, the authors said.

The non-invasive tools “might help physicians determine prognosis at earlier stages and discuss specific treatments, such as liver transplantation”, the authors said.

The evidence in the study was