Link: AASLD Guidance for the Diagnosis and Management of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
This guidance provides a 2018 review of NAFLD and current diagnostic/management recommendations in both adults and children. Some points from this practice guidance:
- “Liver-related mortality is the second or third cause of death among patients with NAFLD.” Cardiovascular disease remains the number one and cancer-related mortality is in the top three.
- “Routine screening for NAFLD in high-risk groups attending primary care, diabetes, or obesity clinics is not advised at this time because of uncertainties surrounding diagnostic tests and treatment options.” Likewise, screening of family members is not recommended.
- In children: “Because of a paucity of evidence, a formal recommendation cannot be made with regard to screening for NAFLD in children with overweight and obesity.”
- In patients undergoing evaluation with suspected NAFLD, the authors specifically recommend checking ferritin, iron saturation, and autoantibodies that could indicate autoimmune liver disease.
- In patients with suspected NAFLD, the authors recommend evaluation for comorbities including dyslipidemia, diabetes, hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome, and sleep apnea.
- “Liver biopsy should be considered in patients with NAFLD who are at increased risk of having…advanced fibrosis” and in “whom competing etiologies…cannot be excluded without a liver biopsy.”
- Pharmacologic therapies are not recommended in those without biospy-proven NASH and fibrosis. Specifically, the authors suggest consideration of pioglitazone and vitamin E and recommend against metformin, GLP-1 agonists, omega-3 fatty acids, and ursodeoxycholic acid.
- “Weight loss (7%-10%) is needed to improve the majority of histopathological features of NASH.”
- In patients with cirrhosis due to NASH, screening for varices is recommended and consideration of screening for HCC.
My take: This practice guidance is quite reasonable. At this time, more focus on systemic measures to counter overweight and obesity is crucial. Pharmacologic therapies for NAFLD will need to be effective for the cardiovascular, metabolic, and liver-related problems.
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- Concise Review: Fatty Liver in Pediatrics
- Ultrasound Unreliable to Exclude Fatty Liver
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