BACKGROUND AND AIMS: To evaluate the ability of pretreatment liver stiffness measurements (pLSM) to predict hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), incident decompensation and all-cause mortality in chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients who achieved sustained virological response (SVR) after treatment with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs).
METHODS: 773 CHC patients with SVR after DAA treatment and no prior liver complications were identified retrospectively. Optimized cut-off of 17.5 kPa for incident HCC was selected by maximum Youden's index. Patients were grouped by pLSM: <10 kPa [reference], 10-17.4 kPa and ≥17.5 kPa. Primary outcomes were incident hepatocellular carcinoma and secondary outcomes were incident decompensated cirrhosis and all-cause mortality, analyzed using cox-regression.
RESULTS: Median follow-up was 36 months and 43.5% (336) had cirrhosis (LSM>12.5 kPa). The median pLSM was 11.6 kPa (IQR 6.7-17.8, range 2.5-75) and pLSM of <10 kPa, 10-17.4 kPa and 17.5-75 kPa was seen in 41.5%, 32.2% and 26.3%. During a median follow-up time of 36 months, 11 (1.4%) developed HCC, 14 (1.5%) developed decompensated cirrhosis, and 38 (4.9%) patients died. A pLSM of 17.5 kPa identified patients with a high risk of HCC with a negative predictive value of 98.9% and incidence rate of HCC in the 17.5-75 kPa group of 1.40/100 person years compared to 0.14/100 person years and 0.12/100 person years in the 10-17.4 kPa and <10 kPa groups, p<0.001.
CONCLUSION: Pretreatment LSM predicts risk of HCC, decompensation and all-cause mortality in patients with SVR after DAA treatment. Patients with a pLSM <17.5 kPa and no other risk factors for chronic liver disease appear not to benefit from HCC surveillance for the first 3 years after treatment. Longer follow-up is needed to clarify if they can be safely excluded from post treatment HCC screening hereafter.