The most common cause of liver disease worldwide, Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), affects 75-100 million people in the US – typically those who are obese, have diabetes and/or high cholesterol levels. A small percentage of patients with NAFLD may also have Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH. NASH refers to swelling and scarring of the liver in some patients may cause chronic liver disease or cirrhosis.
Because patients often don’t display any symptoms, Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is difficult to diagnose. However, it can be detected through an ultrasound. The liver specialists at Carolinas HealthCare System Digestive Health use non-invasive technologies to diagnose patients who may be at risk for Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. The team also offers newer technologies, such as vibration controlled elastography (VCTE) and Magnetic Resonance Elastography (MRI/MRE) to non-invasively determine the amount of fibrosis in the liver. A liver biopsy can also confirm a NASH diagnosis and helps doctors assess the degree of liver scarring.
Small, lifestyle changes and a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet have proven to help patients with NAFLD. Obese patients should strive to lose at least 10 percent of their body weight. We provide nutrition advice and other weight loss resources through the Carolinas Weight Management and Wellness Center.
While a FDA-approved medical therapy has not been approved, our liver specialists regularly conduct clinic trials for the treatment of NASH. To learn more, please visit our Clinical Trials and Research page.