As the name suggests, the typical feature of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is an accumulation of too much fat in the liver cells. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a broad terminology designed to represent a wide array of liver diseases, which may affect people who consume little or even zero alcohol.

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It is the most common type of liver disease in the US. It usually does not produce any signs or symptoms(1)

How To Diagnose Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease usually produces no symptoms. Hence, it is often diagnosed when there are tests carried out for totally different reasons and they point to a condition of the liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may be detected when your liver enzyme test comes out to be abnormal or your liver appears unusual on doing an ultrasound of the abdomen.(2)

When there is a doubt about the liver disease, there may be some tests used to identify the exact cause and diagnose eth condition; and also establish et severity of the disease. These tests may include -

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Blood Tests To Diagnose Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Some blood tests that may help in diagnosing the liver condition are-

  • Complete blood count or CBC
  • Liver function test and liver enzyme test
  • Tests for viral hepatitis or chronic form like hepatitis a, hepatitis c, etc.
  • Celiac disease screening test
  • Blood sugar fasting
  • Test for determining how stable is your blood sugar, like test for haemoglobin A1C
  • Tests for measuring blood fats levels like cholesterol and triglycerides, also known as lipid profile test(2)

Scanning And Imaging To Diagnose Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Some scanning and imaging procedures may be used to diagnose Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. These may include-

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USG Abdomen-

Ultrasonography of the abdomen is the initial test recommended, when liver disease is suspected(2)

CT Scan or MRI –

Computerized tomography (CT) scanning or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used to diagnose the condition, though these cannot differentiate between Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and NASH(2)

Transient Elastography-

  • This is an enhanced or improved form of USG, which measures the stiffness or rigidity of your liver
  • If there is liver rigidity or stiffness, it may be an indication of fibrosis(2)

Magnetic Resonance Elastography-

This technique uses MRI with sound waves and produces an elastogram which shows the stiffness in the body tissues(2)

Examination Of The Liver Tissues-

If other diagnostic tests and procedures do not produce any conclusion, your doctor may advise to remove a small piece of the liver tissue, also known as liver biopsy, and send it for examination in a laboratory.(2)

The examination may reveal if there is any inflammation or scarring of the liver tissue.(2)

What Is The Best Medicine For Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

There is no medicine yet established for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The treatment strategies include weight loss on a priority basis, with the implementation of healthy diet and an exercise regimen. Losing ten percent of the bodyweight is desirable to get positive results. If you need to lose a lot of weight, weight loss surgery might be an option for you. In case of cirrhosis of liver due to NASH, liver transplantation may be an alternative.(2)

Conclusion

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) does not produce any symptoms. Hence, it is not easily diagnosed. It is usually diagnosed when some other tests are run for a different reason which points to a liver condition. When NAFLD is suspected, the tests that can help are MRI, CT scan, elastography, liver tissue examination, etc. There is no particular medicinal treatment for Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Cessation of alcohol promptly stops the progress of the disease. The results can be seen in as less as two to four weeks. Other healthy habits like losing weight, exercise and a healthy, nutritious diet can help in reducing the liver damage and improving the condition.

References:  

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: September 4, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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