The use of current knowledge and non-invasive testing modalities for predicting at-risk non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and assessing fibrosis

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Liver international


There is ongoing recognition of the burden of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), with fibrosis being the most important histological feature that is associated with progression to cirrhosis and the occurrence of major adverse liver outcomes. Liver biopsy is the gold standard applied to detect NASH and determine the stage of fibrosis, but its use is limited. There is a need for non-invasive testing (NIT) techniques to identify patients considered at-risk NASH (NASH with NAFLD activity score > 4 and ≥ F2 fibrosis). For NAFLD-associated fibrosis, several wet (serological) and dry (imaging) NITs are available and demonstrate a high negative predictive value (NPV) for excluding those with advanced hepatic fibrosis. However, identifying at-risk NASH is more challenging; there is little guidance on how to use available NITs for these purposes, and these NITs are not specifically designed to identify at-risk NASH patients. This review discusses the need for NITs in NAFLD and NASH and provides data to support the use of NITs, focusing on newer methods to non-invasively identify at-risk NASH patients. This review concludes with an algorithm that serves as an example of how NITs can be integrated into care pathways of patients with suspected NAFLD and potential NASH. This algorithm can be used for staging, risk stratification and the effective transition of patients who may benefit from specialty care.

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ePub ahead of print