- 1I. Department of Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany. email@example.com.
- 2Department of General, Visceral and Thoracic Surgery, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.
- 3I. Department of Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.
Background: Non-invasive scores, such as the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) Fibrosis Score (NFS), are increasingly used for liver fibrosis assessment in patients with NAFLD. The aim of this study was to assess the applicability and reliability of non-invasive fibrosis scores in NAFLD patients with and without morbid obesity.
Methods: Three hundred sixty-eight patients with biopsy-proven NAFLD identified between January 2012 and December 2015 were studied; 225 with morbid obesity (biopsy obtained during bariatric surgery) and 143 patients without (termed as "conventional").
Results: Median age was 47 years, 57% were female. Median body mass index (BMI) was 42.9 kg/m2 with significant differences between our conventional and morbidly obese patients (BMI 29.0 vs. 50.8 kg/m2, p < 0.001). Overall, 42% displayed mild/moderate and 16% advanced liver fibrosis (stage III/IV). All tested scores were significantly linked to fibrosis stage (p < 0.001 for all). FIB-4 (AUROC 0.904), APRI (AUROC 0.848), and NFS (AUROC 0.750) were identified as potent predictors of advanced fibrosis, although NFS overestimated fibrosis stage in morbid obesity. Limiting BMI to a maximum of 40 kg/m2 improved NFS' overall performance (AUROC 0.838). FIB-4 > 1.0 indicated high probability of advanced fibrosis (OR = 29.1). FIB-4 predicted advanced fibrosis independently from age, sex, BMI, and presence of morbid obesity.
Conclusions: Our data suggest that FIB-4 score is an accurate predictor of advanced fibrosis in NAFLD throughout all BMI stages. Without adjustment, NFS tends to overestimate fibrosis in morbidly obese NAFLD patients. This problem may be solved by implementation of an upper BMI limit (for NFS) or adjustment of diagnostic thresholds.