1Service d'Hépatologie, Hôpital Beaujon, University Paris-Diderot and INSERM CRB3, Clichy, France.
BACKGROUND AND AIM:
Assessment of the severity of liver disease following infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) is important in treatment selection and prognosis. As invasive liver biopsy procedures are regarded as the reference method to assess the stage of fibrosis, it is important to identify patient characteristics that are predictive of liver fibrosis severity. The aim of the study was to describe the distribution of liver severity scores, clinical characteristics, and physicians' assessment of fibrosis among HCV patients in 5 European countries.
This cross-sectional study retrospectively reviewed the medical records of patients who were chronically infected with HCV in 2006. Patients managed for HCV at any of 60 sites in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK were included. Data collected included patient demographics and clinical characteristics. A combination of univariate and multivariate regression analyses were used to identify predictors of fibrosis severity and factors associated with undergoing biopsy.
4594 chronically infected HCV patients were included in this analysis. Management approaches differed between countries, with variations in biopsy use (59.3-18.4%) and preferred fibrosis scoring systems. Where histology results were available, 43.4%, 23.8% and 32.9% had mild, moderate and severe fibrosis, respectively. Factors associated with undergoing a biopsy included male gender and co-infection with hepatitis B virus. Chronic alcoholism, a lower first platelet count, and older age were predictors of increased liver fibrosis severity.
These data suggest that there are major differences in how specialists manage their HCV patients across 5 major EU countries.