Non-invasive tools for compensated advanced chronic liver disease and portal hypertension after Baveno VII – an updateNon-invasive tests (NITs) and liver stiffness measurement (LSM) in particular, have entered clinical practice over 20 years ago as point-of-care tests to diagnose liver fibrosis in patients with compensated chronic liver disease. Since then, NITs use has evolved thanks to a large number of studies in all major etiologies of liver disease, and they have become important tools to stratify the risk of portal hypertension and liver-related events. The Baveno VII consensus workshop provided several novel recommendations regarding the use of well-established and novel NITs in the specific setting of portal hypertension screening, diagnosis and follow-up.
Intercellular crosstalk of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells in liver fibrosis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinomaIntercellular crosstalk among various liver cells plays an important role in liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Capillarization of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) precedes fibrosis and accumulating evidence suggests that the crosstalk between LSECs and other liver cells is critical in the development and progression of liver fibrosis. LSECs dysfunction, a key event in the progression from fibrosis to cirrhosis, and subsequently obstruction of hepatic sinuses and increased intrahepatic vascular resistance (IHVR) contribute to development of portal hypertension (PHT) and cirrhosis.
Novel ultrasound-based methods to assess liver disease: The game has just begunIn the last 10 years the availability of ultrasound elastography allowed to diagnose and stage liver fibrosis in a non-invasive way and changed the clinical practice of hepatology. Newer ultrasound-based techniques to evaluate properties of the liver tissue other than fibrosis are emerging and will lead to a more complete characterization of the full spectrum of diffuse and focal liver disease. Since these methods are currently undergoing validation and go beyond elastography for liver tissue evaluation, they were not included in the recent guidelines regarding elastography issued by the European Federation of Societies in Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology.
Antibiotic stewardship and empirical antibiotic treatment: How can they get along?The aim of this review is to focus on the recent knowledge on antibiotic stewardship and empiric antibiotic treatment in cirrhotic patients. The application of antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) rules appears to be the most appropriate strategy to globally manage cirrhotic patients with infectious complications: indeed they represent a unique way to provide both early diagnosis and appropriate therapy in order to avoid not only antibiotic over-prescription but, more importantly, selection and spread of antimicrobial resistance.
Portal vein thrombosis: The role of imaging in the clinical settingPortal vein thrombosis is an infrequent condition occurring in several different clinical scenarios. In the last years it has been increasingly recognised due to the broad use of radiological methods. In this review we underline the central role of imaging in diagnosing portal vein thrombosis, in clarifying its etiology, choosing the best therapeutic approach and screening possible complications. Special attention is given to the role of imaging to differentiate portal vein thrombosis from neoplastic invasion of the portal vein, and to new diagnostic methods available for clinical practice in this field.
Triple therapy with first-generation Protease Inhibitors for patients with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C: Recommendations of the Italian Association for the Study of the Liver (AISF)The first-generation Protease Inhibitors Boceprevir and Telaprevir administered in triple therapy regimens with Peg-interferon alpha and Ribavirin have been proven effective in increasing the rate of Sustained Virological Response in both naive and treatment-experienced patients with chronic genotype-1 hepatitis C. However, at the individual level, the therapeutic advantage of triple therapy is highly variable and results from the combination of multiple factors related to the characteristics of patient, viral status and liver disease.
Position paper of the Italian Association for the Study of the Liver (AISF): The multidisciplinary clinical approach to hepatocellular carcinomaPatients with hepatocellular carcinoma should be managed with a multidisciplinary approach framed in a network where all the diagnostic techniques and therapeutic resources are available in order to provide the optimal level of care. Given this assumption, the Coordinating Committee of the Italian Association for the Study of the Liver nominated a panel of experts to elaborate practical recommendations for the multidisciplinary management of hepatocellular carcinoma aiming to provide: (1) homogeneous and efficacious diagnostic and staging work-up, and (2) the best treatment choice tailored to patient status and tumour stage at diagnosis.
Directly acting antivirals for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C: Unresolved topics from registration trialsThe Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency approval of first generation directly acting antivirals NS3 protease inhibitors boceprevir and telaprevir opens a new era in the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus genotype 1 infection. Indeed telaprevir and boceprevir registration trials clearly showed a substantial improvement in rates of sustained virological response both in naive and in treatment-experienced patients, with the possibility of shortened regimens in a consistent subset of patients, through the optimization of treatment algorithms.
Hepatic venous pressure gradient measurement in clinical hepatologyPortal hypertension is key to the natural history of cirrhosis and the standard way to assess it is the hepatic venous pressure gradient. Hepatic venous pressure gradient is a strong predictor of variceal bleeding/survival and is the only suitable tool to assess the response of portal hypertension to medical treatment. The clinical applications, indications and timing for hepatic venous pressure gradient measurement, together with measurement principles and costs, are reviewed.
Treatment of chronic hepatitis B: Update of the recommendations from the 2007 Italian WorkshopThe Italian recommendations for the therapy of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related disease were issued in 2008. Subsequently in 2008 the nucleotide analogue (NA) Tenofovir was approved for antiviral treatment. The introduction of this important new drug has called for the current guidelines update, which includes some additional revisions: (a) the indication for therapy is extended to mild liver fibrosis and the indication for treatment is graded as “possible”, “optional” or “mandatory” according to the fibrosis stage; (b) two different treatment strategies are described: first line definite duration treatment with interferon, long-term treatment of indefinite duration with NA; (c) the indication to follow either strategy is also based on the stage of liver fibrosis; (d) virological monitoring is modified to include the definitions of failure and of sustained virological response to interferon therapy; (e) the recommendation to use HBV DNA assays with high sensitivity and wide linear ranges is underlined (f) guidelines on post-treatment follow-up after finite treatment with NA, potential side effects of therapy and non-virological monitoring are defined; (g) definitions and treatment of patients without optimal response to NA are reported; (f) treatment and monitoring of compensated or decompensated cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma are updated.
The management of portal hypertensive gastropathy and gastric antral vascular ectasiaPortal hypertensive gastropathy and gastric antral vascular ectasia are gastric mucosal lesions that can cause chronic gastrointestinal haemorrhage and, consequently, chronic anaemia, in patients with cirrhosis. Although chronic anaemia is the most common clinical manifestation, these entities may also lead to acute gastrointestinal bleeding. Despite similar clinical manifestations, their pathophysiology and management are entirely different. Their diagnosis is endoscopic and although generally each of them has a characteristic endoscopic appearance and distribution, there are cases in which the differential is difficult and must rely on histology.
Emerging issues in the use of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) for management of portal hypertension: Time to update the guidelines?Since its first introduction in the 1980s, transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt has played an increasingly important role in the management and treatment of the complications of portal hypertension. In 2005, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases published the Practice Guidelines for the use of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt in the management of portal hypertension. Since then, technical advances and new interesting data on transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt have been presented in the literature.
Portal vein thrombosis, revisitedThis review article aims to discuss the aetiology, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, diagnostic workup and management of portal vein thrombosis, either as a primary vascular liver disease in adults and children, or as a complication of liver cirrhosis. In addition, indications and limits of anticoagulant therapy are discussed in detail.
Practice guidelines for the treatment of hepatitis C: Recommendations from an AISF/SIMIT/SIMAST Expert Opinion MeetingIt is increasingly clear that a tailored therapeutic approach to patients with hepatitis C virus infection is needed. Success rates in difficult to treat and low-responsive hepatitis C virus patients are not completely satisfactory, and there is the need to optimise treatment duration and intensity in patients with the highest likelihood of response. In addition, the management of special patient categories originally excluded from phase III registration trials needs to be critically re-evaluated.
Alcohol and viral hepatitis: A mini-reviewDue to their high prevalence in the general population, alcohol use and abuse can be associated with hepatitis B and C virus infections and it has been demonstrated that alcohol plays a role as a co-morbid factor in the development of liver disease. There is evidence that alcohol abuse accelerates the progression of liver fibrosis and affects the survival of patients with chronic hepatitis C. The mechanism by which alcohol worsens hepatitis C virus-related liver disease has not been fully clarified, but enhanced viral replication, increased oxidative stress, cytotoxicity and impairment of immune response could play a relevant role.
Treatment of chronic hepatitis B: Recommendations from an Italian workshopThe changing scenario of hepatitis B virus therapy has encouraged the organisation of a workshop, endorsed by three Italian scientific societies, aimed at defining the current recommendations for hepatitis B virus treatment. Liver histology and stage of disease remain fundamental for treatment decisions; interferon and nucleoside/nucleotide analogues-based therapy represent different strategies for different phases of the hepatitis B virus disease. The recommendations defined: new and lower cut-off of hepatitis B virus–DNA for eligibility to therapy according to disease stage, how to optimise the use of nucleoside/nucleotide analogues and to individualise the monitoring of response and what to do with treatment failures.
Muscle cramps in cirrhosis: The therapeutic value of quinine. Is it underused?Muscle cramps are a common and recurring symptom in patients with cirrhosis. Although, the pathophysiology has not been specifically studied in cirrhosis, this is thought to be the same for cramps in general, originating in the motorneurone, with high frequency firing of motor unit action potentials. However precise pathophysiological mechanisms are not known. Risk factors in cirrhosis have been little studied. Neither aetiology, nor pre-ascitic or ascitic stage, nor electrolyte disturbances, nor use of diuretic therapy has been found to have a statistical association with cramps in patients with cirrhosis.