Liver Shorts August 2018

M Yakoot et al. JPGN 2018; 67: 86-89. This prospective, open-label, unblinded study from Egypt indicated that 29 of 30 (96.7%) pediatric (12-17 yr) patients with HCV (genotype 4) attained an SVR12 with sofusbuvir/daclatasvir.  No serious adverse effects were evident.  The one patient who did not achieve SVR12 was lost to followup but had viral negativity after completing treatment.

Related blog post: New HCV Treatment Effective in Adolescents –Important Study Now Published Online

O El-Sherif, ZG Jiang et al. Gastroenterol 2018; 154: 2111-21. This study showed that a “BE3A Score” based on BMI <25, no Encephalopathy, no Ascites, Albumin >3.5 and ALT >60 IU/L could be used to discriminate the likelihood of reducing the Child-Pugh-Turcotte (CPT) score to class A in patients with hepatitis C virus-associated decompensated cirrhosis who received DAA therapy.  This retrospective  analysis was based on 4 trials of a sofusbuvir-therapy with 502 CPT class B and 120 CPT class C patients.

AH Ali et al. Hepatology 2018; 67: 2338-51.  This study convincingly shows that surveillance for hepatobiliary cancers improves outcomes in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis.  Among their cohort of 830 patients (Mayo clinic), 79 developed malignancies.  Of those under surveillance (n=40), the 5-year survival was 68% compared to 20% for those who had not been under surveillance.  While the true cynic might ascribe some of the difference to ‘lead-time’ bias, this is unlikely to account for this difference at 5 years.

F Aberg et al. Hepatology 2018; 67: 2141-49.  This Finish-population prospective study, over an 11 year follow-up, using a nationally-representative cohort (n=6771) showed that even moderate alcohol consumption worsened outcomes (eg hepatic decompensation, hepatocellular carcinoma) in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.  In addition, the authors showed that diabetes the most significant predictor of poor outcome (HR 6.79). In a related commentary, pg 2072-73, the authors state that this article “put an end to the ongoing ddebate whether moderate alcohol drinking (less than 20 g of alcohol/day or 2 drinks per day) could be helpful.”

Looking for trouble

Although cirrhosis is an infrequent problem in pediatric gastroenterology, there are several important management aspects.  One of these is surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).  In this month’s Hepatology, Poustchi et al describe the “feasibility of a randomized control trial for liver cancer screening” (Hepatology 2012; 54: 1998 & editorial 1898).  Not surprisingly, the authors conclude that such a trial is not possible with informed consent.  As such, the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness may not be determined.  Although the consensus is in favor of screening, there are potential disadvantages like discovering non-cancer nodules leading towards unnecessary invasive investigations.

The AASLD considers screening for HCC worthwhile in patients with cirrhosis.  When HCC is discovered early, treatment can be effective.  For example, if HCC meets Milan criteria–either 1 tumor <5cm or 2-3 < 3 cm each– OLT has 91% 1 yr survival.

Most U.S. physicians (74%) report that they screen all of their patients with cirrhosis; however,  population-based studies of Medicare patients show only 6.6% receive regular surveillance (Hepatology 2010; 52: 132-41) & only 12% of veterans with HCV-infected cirrhosis (Ann Intern Med 2011; 154: 85-93).  Better ways of consolidating screening can bridge this gap & perhaps catch cases of HCC amenable to treatment.  This may be another area where an EMR can help with patient/doctor reminders.

Current practice recommendations for cirrhotic patients: Ultrasound every 6 months (with or without AFP).  This recommendation is supported by the AASLD, EASL, and APASL.  The efficacy of HCC surveillance is reviewed further in the January “Education Practice” article: Clin Gastro & Hepatatol 2012: 10: 16-21.

Additional references:

  • Gastroenterology 2011; 141: 1240. Risk of HCC from HBV related to ALT and HBV DNA levels.
  • NEJM 2011; 365: 1118. Review. For cirrhotics/advanced liver dz, recs U/S & AFP q6-12months.
  • Hepatology 2010; 53: 1020. updated guidelines from AASLD. Suggests U/S as screen q6months.
  • J Pediatr 2011; 159: 617. BA associated with HCC.
  • Hepatology 2010; 51: 1972. NASH cirrhosis pts develop HCC. 12.8% over .32 yrs (compared with 20.3 % of pts with HCV cirrhosis). Alcohol & age were independent variables that increased risk.
  • Gastroenterology 2009; 137: 110, editorial page 26. AFP has at best 66% sensitivity for HCC.
  • Gastroenterology 2009; 136: 138, 39(ed). HCC occuring c HCV ~1%/yr in HALT-C study. prolonged Rx -not helpful. n=1005. Best surveillance is US. Only 60% of pts c HCC received surveillance. Hepatolgy 2005; 42 : 1208.
  • Gastroenterologyo 2008; 135: 111. DM & obesity associated with increase risk of HCC in patients with HBV/HCV.
  • Gastroenterology 2008; 134: 1612. Increasing LTx for HCC affects others on Tx list.
  • Gastroenterology 2007; 132: 2557. review
  • Clin Gastro & Hep 2006; 4: 252 Review.
  • Hepatology 2005; 42: 1208. AASLD guidelines for management.
  • Gastroenterology 2004 (November) 127; supplement 1:S1–S323. Review of HCC. S108: screen with alpha-fetoprotein AND U/S every 6-12 months in individuals with cirrhosis or advanced disease (not needed in individuals with mild disease).
  • Clinical Gastro & Hep 2003; 1: 10-18. Review.
  • Gastroenterology 2004; 126: 1005. HCC survival improved when detected as part of surveillance.