Enhanced liver fibrosis (ELF) score predicts hepatic decompensation and mortality

Madeline Pearson, Jennifer Nobes (Lead / Corresponding author), Iain Macpherson, Lucy Gold, Michael Miller, Ellie Dow, John F. Dillon

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BACKGROUND & AIMS: In community pathways for detection of liver disease the most common reason for referral is fibrosis assessment. We investigated the impact of adding the Enhanced Liver Fibrosis (ELF) score as a second-line test (subsequent to an indeterminate or high Fibrosis-4 index [FIB-4] and/or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease fibrosis score) to guide referral and prognostication in our multi-aetiology pathway.

METHODS: Patients with ELF results from the intelligent Liver Function Testing (iLFT) pathway were recruited. Case note review was undertaken to compare ELF with endpoints of cirrhosis, hepatic decompensation, and mortality (liver-related and all-cause death).

RESULTS: In total, 1,327 individuals were included with a median follow-up of 859 days and median ELF score of 10.2. Overall sensitivity for cirrhosis at the 9.8 threshold was 94% (100% for metabolic-associated steatotic liver disease, 89% for alcohol-related liver disease). Determination of the ELF score as a second-line test reduced the referral rate by 34%. ELF scores predicted hepatic outcomes; each unit change was associated with increased decompensation (adjusted Hazard Ratio [aHR] 2.215, 95% CI: 1.934-2.537) and liver-related mortality (aHR 2.024, 95% CI: 1.674-2.446). ELF outperformed FIB-4 for risk of liver-related mortality, particularly in the short-term (area under the curve [AUC] 94.3% vs. 82.8% at six months). Where FIB-4 was indeterminate, ELF had higher AUC for all outcomes within at least 2 years. ELF ≥13 was associated with particularly high rates of decompensation (26% within 90 days) and all-cause mortality (38% at 1 year).

CONCLUSIONS: The addition of ELF reduced the number of individuals referred for fibrosis assessment following iLFT pathway testing and provided useful prognostic information. Individuals with ELF scores ≥13 were considered at high-risk of negative outcomes warranting urgent clinical assessment.

IMPACT AND IMPLICATIONS: Primary care pathways for suspected liver disease are increasingly common and often lead to increased specialist hepatology referrals for fibrosis assessment. This study, using clinical follow-up for liver-related outcomes, provides further evidence supporting ELF testing to safely reduce referrals in a two-step approach when combined with other simple fibrosis markers. Additionally, ELF scores predict liver-related morbidity and mortality, with ELF scores ≥13 indicating particularly high-risk patients. This study may help inform the implementation of diagnostic pathways for early detection of liver disease and highlights the need for urgent review of individuals with very high ELF scores.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101062
Number of pages11
JournalJHEP Reports
Issue number6
Early online date22 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


  • Enhanced Liver Fibrosis testing
  • Liver fibrosis
  • Referral pathway
  • Multi-aetiology
  • Non-invasive tests
  • Stratification
  • Prognostication


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