Overview and developments in noninvasive diagnosis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

2012 World Journal of Gastroenterology 18;30 (3945-3954)

High prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and very diverse outcomes that are related to disease form and severity at presentation have made the search for noninvasive diagnostic tools in NAFLD one of the areas with most intense development in hepatology today. Various methods have been investigated in the recent years, including imaging methods like ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging, different forms of liver stiffness measurement, various biomarkers of necroinflammatory processes (acute phase reactants, cytokines, markers of apoptosis), hyaluronic acid and other biomarkers of liver fibrosis. Multicomponent tests, scoring systems and diagnostic panels were also developed with the purposes of differentiating non-alcoholic steatohepatitis from simple steatosis or discriminating between various fibrosis stages. In all of the cases, performance of noninvasive methods was compared with liver biopsy, which is still considered to be a gold standard in diagnosis, but is by itself far from a perfect comparative measure. We present here the overview of the published data on various noninvasive diagnostic tools, some of which appear to be very promising, and we address as well some of still unresolved issues in this interesting field.

Pubmed : 22912545