Non-invasive Markers of Liver Fibrosis: Adjuncts or Alternatives to Liver Biopsy?
Chin JL., Pavlides M., Moolla A., Ryan JD.
Liver fibrosis reflects sustained liver injury often from multiple, simultaneous factors. Whilst the presence of mild fibrosis on biopsy can be a reassuring finding, the identification of advanced fibrosis is critical to the management of patients with chronic liver disease. This necessity has lead to a reliance on liver biopsy which itself is an imperfect test and poorly accepted by patients. The development of robust tools to non-invasively assess liver fibrosis has dramatically enhanced clinical decision making in patients with chronic liver disease, allowing a rapid and informed judgment of disease stage and prognosis. Should a liver biopsy be required, the appropriateness is clearer and the diagnostic yield is greater with the use of these adjuncts. While a number of non-invasive liver fibrosis markers are now used in routine practice, a steady stream of innovative approaches exists. With improvement in the reliability, reproducibility and feasibility of these markers, their potential role in disease management is increasing. Moreover, their adoption into clinical trials as outcome measures reflects their validity and dynamic nature. This review will summarize and appraise the current and novel non-invasive markers of liver fibrosis, both blood and imaging based, and look at their prospective application in everyday clinical care.