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Keywords:

  • children;
  • fibrosis;
  • liver biopsy;
  • nonalcoholic fatty liver disease;
  • noninvasive

Abstract

Background

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) encompasses a spectrum of disease from simple steatosis to steatohepatitis, to fibrosis and cirrhosis. The paediatric NAFLD fibrosis index (PNFI) and transient elastography (TE) are potential noninvasive markers for fibrosis.

To prospectively evaluate the performance of PNFI and TE in assessing clinically significant fibrosis in children with biopsy-proven NAFLD.

Methods

Our cohort consisted of 67 consecutive children with biopsy-proven NAFLD. The stage of fibrosis was scored according to the Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Clinical Research Network. Fibrosis ≥ 2 was considered clinically significant. PNFI was calculated using age, waist circumference and triglycerides. TE was performed using the Fibroscan apparatus.

Results

Ten patients had fibrosis stage 2–3 and 57 patients had stage 0–1. Both PNFI and TE values were significantly higher in patients with significant fibrosis (P < 0.05). The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve for predicting significant fibrosis of PNFI and TE were 0.747 and 1.00 respectively (P = 0.005). The combined use of PNFI and TE could predict the presence or absence of clinically significant fibrosis in 98% of children with NAFLD.

Conclusions

In children with NAFLD, the combination of PNFI and TE can be used to accurately assess the presence of clinically significant liver fibrosis. This will help to identify patients who should undergo liver biopsy because the confirmation of advanced fibrosis would lead to closer follow-up and screening for cirrhosis-related complications.