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Prospective evaluation of a primary care referral pathway for patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Srivastava, Ankur; Gailer, Ruth; Tanwar, Sudeep; Trembling, Paul; Parkes, Julie; Rodger, Alison; Suri, Deepak; Thorburn, Douglas; Sennett, Karen; Morgan, Sarah; Tsochatzis, Emmanuel A; Rosenberg, William.
J Hepatol; 71(2): 371-378, 2019 Aug.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | Abr 2019 | ID: mdl-30965069
Resumo: BACKGROUND & AIMS: The development of non-invasive liver fibrosis tests may enable earlier identification of patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) requiring referral to secondary care. We developed and evaluated a pathway for the management of patients with NAFLD, aimed at improving the detection of cases of advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis, and avoiding unnecessary referrals. METHODS: This was a prospective longitudinal cohort study, with analyses performed before and after introduction of the pathway, and comparisons made to unexposed controls. We used a 2-step algorithm combining the use of Fibrosis-4 score followed by the ELF™ test if required. RESULTS: In total, 3,012 patients were analysed. Use of the pathway detected 5 times more cases of advanced fibrosis (Kleiner F3) and cirrhosis (odds ratio [OR]5.18;95%CI2.97-9.04; p <0.0001), while reducing unnecessary referrals from primary care to secondary care by 81% (OR0.193; 95%CI 0.111-0.337; p <0.0001). Although it was used for only 48% of referrals, significant benefits were observed in practices exposed to the pathway compared to those which were not, with unnecessary referrals falling by 77% (OR0.23; 95% CI0.658-0.082; p = 0.006) and a 4-fold improvement in detection of cases of advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis (OR4.32; 95% CI1.52-12.25; p = 0.006). Compared to referrals made before the introduction of the pathway, unnecessary referrals fell from 79/83 referrals (95.2%) to 107/152 (70.4%), representing an 88% reduction in unnecessary referrals when the pathway was followed (OR0.12; 95%CI0.042-0.349; p <0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: The use of non-invasive blood tests for liver fibrosis improves the detection of advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis, while reducing unnecessary referrals in patients with NAFLD. This strategy improves resource use and benefits patients. LAY SUMMARY: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease effects up to 30% of the population but only a minority of cases develop liver disease. Our study has shown that established blood tests can be used in primary care to stratify patients with fatty liver disease, leading to a reduction in unnecessary referrals by 80% and greatly improving the detection of cases of advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis.