Managing Hepatitis C: Advances in treatment & evaluation

Improvements to the efficacy and side effects of hepatitis C medications have simplified the disease management calculus, tipping the scales towards treatment.

The availability of effective oral medication has also raised the bar for clinicians: is there a way to make similar progress in the evaluation side? What would it take to stage the disease quickly, safely, and without discomfort for the patient?

The stiffness of the patient's liver tissue, categorized at a certain stiffness as "fibrosis," provides hepatologists important diagnostic information about the extent and stage of hepatitis C. Liver biopsy has long been the gold standard for obtaining this information. However, biopsies are time-consuming invasive procedures that routinely cause patients pain and, in some rare instances, lead to greater complications such as internal bleeding. These procedures take up clinical staff time, necessitate bed space, and incur instrument and room sterilization costs. Lastly, they are subject to not insignificant sampling limitations, as each biopsy takes only a small sample from a large organ.


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