From the Journals

Cirrhosis model predicts decompensation across diverse populations



A prognostic model that uses serum albumin-bilirubin (ALBI) and Fibrosis-4 (FIB-4) scores can identify patients with cirrhosis who are at high risk of liver decompensation, according to investigators.

During validation testing, the scoring system performed well among European and Middle Eastern patients, which supports prognostic value across diverse populations, reported lead author Neil Guha, MRCP, PhD, of the University of Nottingham (U.K.) and his colleagues, who suggested that the scoring system could fix an important practice gap.

“Identification of patients [with chronic liver disease] that need intensive monitoring and timely intervention is challenging,” the investigators wrote in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. “Robust prognostic tools using simple laboratory variables, with potential for implementation in nonspecialist settings and across different health care systems, have significant appeal.”

Although existing scoring systems have been used for decades, they have clear limitations, the investigators noted, referring to predictive ability that may be too little, too late.

“[T]hese scoring systems provide value after synthetic liver function has become significantly deranged and provide only short-term prognostic value,” the investigators wrote. “Presently, there are no scores, performed in routine clinical practice, that provide robust prognostic stratification within early, compensated cirrhosis over the medium/long term.”

To fulfill this need, the investigators developed and validated a prognostic model that incorporates data from the ALBI and FIB-4 scoring systems because these tests measure both fibrosis and function. The development phase involved 145 patients with compensated cirrhosis from Nottingham. Almost half of the cohort had liver disease because of alcohol (44.8%), while about one out of three patients had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (29.7%). After investigators collected baseline clinical features and scores, patients were followed for a median of 4.59 years, during which time decompensation events were recorded (ascites, variceal bleeding, and encephalopathy). Decompensation occurred in about one out of five patients (19.3%) in the U.K. group, with ascites being the most common (71.4%). Using these findings, the investigators created the prognostic model, which classified patients as having either low or high risk of decompensation. In the development cohort, patients with high risk scores had a hazard ratio for decompensation of 7.10.

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