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Blood Test Index May Help Liver Patients Avoid Biopsy

It's far more accurate at spotting fibrosis than current screens, researchers say

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter


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MONDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A new index that involves simple blood tests might spare patients invasive biopsies used to diagnose liver fibrosis, Japanese researchers report.

Fibrosis, the formation of scar-like tissue in the liver, indicates damage that can lead to cirrhosis. In people with hepatitis C, determining the stage of liver fibrosis is important for patient prognosis and treatment, according to background information in the article.

While liver biopsy is considered the gold standard for measuring liver fibrosis, it's an invasive and expensive procedure. This study, published in the February issue of Hepatology, compared the new FibroIndex to two other indices currently in use, the Forns index and APRI (aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ration index).

The study included 402 patients with chronic hepatitis who were scheduled to undergo liver biopsy. Blood samples were collected from the patients three days before they underwent biopsy. The blood samples were then tested using FibroIndex and the two other indices.

Researchers at Tottori University found that FibroIndex was more accurate in predicting significant or severe fibrosis than either the Forns index or APRI. Based on the results provided by FibroIndex, 101 of the patients in the study could have avoided a liver biopsy, the study said.

The researchers also tested FibroIndex on 30 hepatitis C patients treated with interferon who had a second liver biopsy more than a year after treatment. The study found that changes in FibroIndex correlated with changes in the patients' fibrosis. The Forns index and APRI did not show this correlation.

SOURCE: Hepatology, news release, February 2007

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Last modified 18 September 2006
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