1Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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These recommendations provide a data-supported approach. They are based on the following: (i) a formal review and analysis of the recently published world literature on the topic (Medline search); (ii) American College of Physicians Manual for Assessing Health Practices and Designing Practice Guidelines (1); (iii) guideline policies, including the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) Policy on the development and use of practice guidelines and the AGA Policy Statement on Guidelines (2); and (iv) the experience of the authors in the specified topic. Intended for use by physicians, these recommendations suggest preferred approaches to the diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive aspects of care. They are intended to be flexible, in contrast to the standards of care, which are inflexible policies to be followed in every case. Specific recommendations are based on relevant published information. To more fully characterize the quality of evidence supporting the recommendations, the Practice Guideline Committee of the AASLD requires a Class (reflecting the benefit vs. risk) and Level (assessing the strength or certainty) of Evidence to be assigned and reported with each recommendation (Table 1, adapted from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association Practice Guidelines) (3,4).