Body mass index as a predictor of hepatic steatosis in living liver donors

Liver Transpl. 2001 May;7(5):409-14. doi: 10.1053/jlts.2001.23787.


Evaluation of the living donor for liver transplantation is a complex process involving such invasive studies as liver biopsy and angiography. It is important to establish the likelihood and extent of hepatic steatosis in living donors by clinical, imaging, and biochemical parameters to avoid performing a liver biopsy, if possible. In this study, the predictive value of body mass index (BMI), liver chemistry tests, and imaging studies was compared with liver histological examination in 33 potential living donors. Patients were grouped and compared based on their BMI (<25, 25 to 28, >28). No patient with a BMI less than 25 had hepatic steatosis. Of patients with a BMI of 25 to 28, steatosis was found on biopsy in 3 of 9 patients. Thirteen of 17 patients (76%) with a BMI greater than 28 had hepatic steatosis on liver biopsy. There was a significant correlation between BMI and overall grade of steatosis (R = 0.49). All subjects with steatosis detected on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) had steatosis on biopsy, and all but 2 such patients had greater than 10% steatosis on biopsy. Conversely, 30% of patients in the MRI group and 24% of patients in the CT group failed to show hepatic steatosis when it was present on biopsy. Thus, it appears that liver biopsy could be avoided in subjects with a normal BMI and absence of risk factors. Individuals with a high BMI should undergo liver biopsy because biochemical and imaging data are currently inadequate to determine the extent of steatosis. Future studies should aim at improving the sensitivity of imaging techniques in the diagnosis of steatosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Fatty Liver / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipids / blood
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Living Donors*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Lipids
  • Alanine Transaminase