BACKGROUND: Up to 3% of methotrexate (MTX)-treated rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients may develop liver fibrosis or cirrhosis, requiring effective screening algorithms.
AIMS: To assess the utility of non-invasive liver fibrosis assessment in RA patients on MTX.
METHODS: 56 patients were recruited from rheumatology outpatient clinics in a public tertiary centre from July 2017 to October 2018. Clinical data was collected. Screening for hepatic fibrosis was performed utilising transient elastography (TE), aminoaspartate transaminase to platelet ratio index (APRI), Hepascore, and Fibrosis-4 index (FIB-4). Those with suspected significant liver fibrosis based on these screening tests were assessed by a hepatologist.
RESULTS: 27 patients were suspected to have liver fibrosis on screening, including 10/56 (18%) by TE, 20/56 (36%) by Hepascore, 2/56 by APRI (4%) and 1/56 by FIB-4 (2%). Of these 27 patients, 11 were reviewed by a hepatologist and 1 diagnosed with significant liver fibrosis. TE, but not APRI, Hepascore or FIB-4, was found to have 100% sensitivity and 84% specificity (p=0.029) for hepatologist-diagnosed liver fibrosis.
CONCLUSION: Liver fibrosis develops in a minority of MTX-treated RA patients. This study suggests that TE is a more sensitive screening test than APRI, FIB-4 or Hepascore in the identification of people with RA at risk of hepatic fibrosis. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.