1Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, 29425, USA.
2Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, 29425, USA. email@example.com.
Background: As recommendations for non-invasive fibrosis risk assessment in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) emerge, it is not known how often they are performed in primary care.
Aims: We investigated the completion of confirmatory fibrosis risk assessment in primary care patients with NAFLD and indeterminate-risk or greater Fibrosis-4 Index (FIB-4) and NAFLD Fibrosis Scores (NFS).
Methods: This retrospective cohort study of electronic health record data from a primary care clinic identified patients with diagnoses of NAFLD from 2012 through 2021. Patients with a diagnosis of a severe liver disease outcome during the study period were excluded. The most recent FIB-4 and NFS scores were calculated and categorized by advanced fibrosis risk. Charts were reviewed to identify the outcome of a confirmatory fibrosis risk assessment by liver elastography or liver biopsy for all patients with indeterminate-risk or higher FIB-4 (≥ 1.3) and NFS (≥ - 1.455) scores.
Results: The cohort included 604 patients diagnosed with NAFLD. Two-thirds of included patients (399) had a FIB-4 or NFS score greater than low-risk, 19% (113) had a high-risk FIB-4 (≥ 2.67) or NFS (≥ 0.676) score, and 7% (44) had high-risk FIB-4 and NFS values. Of these 399 patients with an indication for a confirmatory fibrosis test, 10% (41) underwent liver elastography (24) or liver biopsy (18) or both (1).
Conclusions: Advanced fibrosis is a key indicator of future poor health outcomes in patients with NAFLD and a critical signal for referral to hepatology. Significant opportunities exist to improve confirmatory fibrosis risk assessment in patients with NAFLD.