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Liver stiffness improvement in hepatitis C patients after successful treatment.

BACKGROUND: Successful treatment of chronic hepatitis C with direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs) is expected to lead to improvement in liver fibrosis in most of the patients. However, limited data are available on the improvement of advanced liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, measured by transient elastography after treatment. This study assessed the change in liver stiffness measurements after successful treatment with DAAs in patients with pre-treatment advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis.

METHODS: This observational retrospective cohort study included 514 mono-infected chronic hepatitis C patients, treated with all possible DAA-regimes in the Amsterdam region, the Netherlands. Liver stiffness was measured using FibroScan® at baseline and during follow-up. Cut-off values for staging liver fibrosis were ≥ 9.5 kPa for advanced fibrosis (F3) and ≥ 14.6 kPa for cirrhosis (F4).

RESULTS: Liver stiffness decreased significantly from a median of 15.6 kPa (IQR 11.4-25.4) to 9.4 kPa (IQR 6.2-17.0) in 197 patients with pre-treated advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis. In 50.3% of these patients, liver stiffness improved to a value fitting with mild to moderate fibrosis (< 9.5 kPa, F0-F2) after successful treatment. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that a pre-treatment FibroScan® value of ≥ 20.0 kPa was associated with persisting advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis after treatment (OR 29.07, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Liver stiffness improves significantly after successful direct-acting antiviral agent treatment in chronic hepatitis C patients with advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis prior to DAA treatment. Long-term outcomes regarding occurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in these patients are required to determine whether they can be safely discharged from HCC surveillance.

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