Identification of Patients with Advanced Fibrosis Due to Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Considerations for Best Practice
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) prevalence has increased in the past two decades, resulting in a significant but under-recognised public health burden. This impacts the prevalence of advanced fibrosis, end-stage liver disease and associated extrahepatic manifestations. To understand the challenges in recognising patients with advanced fibrosis due to NASH and develop a standardised approach to screen these patients, the authors of this document provided their opinions and expertise from practice and published evidence to identify key challenges and current approaches for diagnosing NASH. The severity of liver fibrosis due to NASH is the main indicator of associated morbidity and mortality outcomes. Therefore, identifying patients with, or at risk of, advanced fibrosis due to NASH and linking them to appropriate care is critical. This can be challenging due to a lack of awareness of NASH among healthcare professionals and a lack of standardised protocols for identifying patients. Simple noninvasive tests may provide an opportunity to facilitate early identification of these patients. This article proposes a simple, universally applicable diagnostic algorithm for use in clinical practice, that includes sequential use of noninvasive tests, ideally a biological marker and an imaging technique, which may help to facilitate early diagnosis of these patients. In the opinion of the authors, early detection of advanced fibrosis is fundamental in the efforts to halt the progression of NASH and diagnostic algorithms may facilitate pre-emptive interventions to curtail the disease.