Liver stiffness (LS) assessed using transient elastography (TE) can assess the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We evaluated whether TE, when compared with histological data as a reference standard, can predict the risk of HCC development in chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients starting antiviral therapy. Observational cohort database of 381 patients with CHB who underwent liver biopsy (LB) and TE were reviewed. All patients underwent surveillance for HCC development using ultrasonography and alpha-fetoprotein. During the median follow-up period of 48.1 (interquartile range 30.3-69.3) months, HCC developed in 34 (8.9%) patients. In patients with HCC development, age, proportion of diabetes mellitus, histological fibrosis stage, and LS value were significantly higher than those in patients without (all P<0.05). The cumulative incidence rates of HCC increased significantly in association with elevated LS value in 3 stratified groups (LS value <8, 8-13, and >13 kPa; log-rank test, P<0.001), and with higher histological fibrosis stage in 3 stratified groups (F0-2, F3, and F4; log-rank test, P<0.001). On multivariate analysis, along with age, LS value was an independent predictor of HCC development (hazard ratio 1.041, P<0.001), whereas histological staging was not (P>0.05). TE predicted HCC development independently in patients with CHB starting antiviral therapy. However, further investigation is needed to determine whether the current surveillance strategy can be optimized based on the LS value at the time of starting antiviral therapy.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by a grant of the Korea Healthcare technology R&D Project, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea (HI10C2020), and supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (NRF-2014R1A1A1008585) and by the Ministry of Education (2015R1D1A1A01058653).
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