Readily available and inexpensive noninvasive tests, when used in combination with liver markers obtained with the extra-large probe, can improve the ability to predict risk for decompensation and other adverse outcomes in obese and overweight patients with compensated advanced chronic liver disease (cACLD), according to study results reported in the upcoming issue of the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

The retrospective study of 272 obese and overweight patients in Bern, Switzerland, and Montreal with cACLD is the first to fully assess the noninvasive marker of portal hypertension along with using the extra-large probe for controlled attenuation parameter (CAP) to determine risk, wrote Yuly Mendoza, MD, of the University of Bern and colleagues. Decompensation in cACLD carries a higher risk of death. The study noted that portal hypertension is a key driver of progression to decompensation, “and as such, it should be identified as soon as possible and treated as needed.”

“Prediction of prognosis in cACLD is challenging, and noninvasive tests are important tools for clinicians to avoid as much as possible the use of more invasive tests,” wrote Dr. Mendoza and colleagues. Based on the extra-large probe, 76% (n = 206) of study patients had metabolic syndrome, sometimes with other etiologies of liver disease, and 57% (n = 154) had cACLD because of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease/nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NAFLD/NASH).

Twelve patients had decompensation and five developed severe bacterial infections.

“Readily available noninvasive tests can be used to identify obese or overweight patients with cACLD who are at increased risk for decompensation and severe bacterial infections,” wrote the researchers.

The study noted that obesity is a challenge for noninvasive tests and is a major limitation to liver stiffness measurement on transient elastography using the standard M probe. The XL probe has been specifically designed to overcome this challenge in obese patients, but it hasn’t been evaluated for the prediction of clinical decompensation in obese patients with cACLD.

This study claimed to provide further evidence that liver stiffness measurement in combination with noninvasive tests for liver stiffness measurement, spleen size/platelet count (LSPS), portal hypertension and portal hypertension risk score can help identify patients at risk for clinical decompensation and severe bacterial infections.

The study used average area under the receiving operator curve (AUC) to calculate the ability of the markers to distinguish risk, all with 95% confidence interval: 0.803 for liver stiffness measurement, 0.829 for portal hypertension risk score, and 0.845 for LSPS (P < .001). The markers showed an even better ability to differentiate between patients at risk for developing classical clinical decompensation in follow-up from those not at risk (all 95% CI): 0.848 for liver stiffness measurement, 0.881 for portal hypertension risk score, and 0.890 for LSPS (P < .001).

“The results of the present study validate the use of [extra-large] probe for liver stiffness measurement and CAP to stratify the risk of clinical decompensation and clinically relevant events in overweight/obese patients with cACLD, particularly in case of NAFLD/NASH etiology,” wrote Dr. Mendoza and colleagues.

All study participants were followed for at least 6 months, with a median of 17 months. Patients who developed decompensation or severe bacterial infections had slightly worse liver function (higher international normalized ratio and lower albumin), lower mean platelet count (117 vs. 179 x 109/L; P < .001) and lower mean CAP (297 vs. 318 dBm; P = .030) than did patients who stayed compensated.

CAP above 220 dB/m was marginally associated with a lower risk of decompensation or severe bacterial infections on univariate analysis, as were elevated Model for End-Stage Liver Disease score, elevated Child Pugh score, low platelet count, low serum albumin, elevated serum bilirubin and increased liver stiffness measurement, LSPS, and portal hypertension risk scores.

Dr. Mendoza and colleagues have no relevant financial disclosures. The study received funding from the Swiss government.

SOURCE: Mendoza Y et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2020.04.018.