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What Is The Prognosis For Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD is a broad terminology designed to cover many liver conditions that are caused by little or even zero alcohol consumption. Its primary characteristic is the accumulation of excess fat in liver cells.(1)

What Is The Prognosis For Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

What Is The Prognosis For Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a broad terminology designed to cover a wide variety of liver conditions. The prognosis for some of these conditions can be as below-

  • Steatosis can be reversed with eth help pf weight loss or stopping alcohol use or both of these
  • Steatosis was once thought to be benign, a condition that very rarely progressed to chronic liver disease.
  • However, steatohepatitis may develop into liver fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver.
  • Simple alcoholic steatosis is not always fatal. With the cessation of alcohol, this condition almost completely reverses within two to four weeks. If alcohol is not discontinued, the condition may progress to more advanced ones like cirrhosis or alcoholic hepatitis
  • Patients of alcoholic liver disease who also have cirrhosis have a worse prognosis than those patients who have chronic hepatitis c or those who have cirrhosis related to Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Those having Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease when undergoing repeat biopsies, it has been found that out of those, thirty percent of the people progress to some serious condition, thirty percent remain stable with no improvement or regress and about thirty percent show improvement over a span of three years, without the help of any medications.
  • Almost thirty percent of the people with liver fibrosis develop cirrhosis of the liver after 10 years.
  • Some patients with drug-induced fatty liver may present with a rapid hepatic failure.
  • Some with congenital metabolical disorders like tyrosinemia may very quickly progress to cirrhosis of the liver(2)

Diagnosis For Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease usually causes 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.(3)

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 the severity of the disease. These tests may include-

Blood Tests-

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(3)

Scanning And Imaging For Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

These may include-

USG Abdomen-

Ultrasonography of the abdomen is the initial test recommended, when liver disease is suspected(3)

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 NAFLD and NASH(3)

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 scarring or fibrosis(3)

Magnetic Resonance Elastography-

This technique uses MRI with sound waves and produces an elastogram which shows the stiffness in the body tissues(3)

Examination Of The Liver Tissues-

If other diagnostic tests and procedures do not produce any conclusion, your doctor may advise to remove a sample of the liver tissue, also known as liver biopsy, and send it for examination in a laboratory.(3)


In some cases, the Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may be reversed, while in others though the progress of the disease may be arrested, it may not be completely reversed.


Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 14, 2019

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