Background: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is closely associated with the metabolic syndrome.
Aim: We evaluated the association among the metabolic syndrome, visceral fat accumulation, and the severity of fatty liver with a new scoring system of ultrasonographic findings in apparently healthy Japanese adults.
Methods: Subjects consisted of 94 patients who received liver biopsy and 4,826 participants who were selected from the general population. Two hepatologists scored the ultrasonographic findings from 0 to 6 points. We calculated Cohen's kappa of within-observer reliability and between-observer reliability. We evaluated the predictive value of the score by the area under a conventional receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC).
Results: Within-observer reliability was 0.95 (95% CI 0.93-0.97, P<0.001) and between-observer reliability was 0.95 (95% CI 0.93-0.97, P<0.001). The AUC to diagnose NAFLD was 0.980. The sensitivity was 91.7% (95% CI 87.0-95.1, P<0.001) and the specificity was 100% (95% CI 95.4-100.0, P<0.001). The AUC to diagnose visceral obesity was 0.821. The sensitivity was 68.3% (95% CI 51.9-81.9, P=0.028) and the specificity was 95.1% (95% CI 86.3-99.0, P<0.001). Adjusted odds ratio of the score for the metabolic syndrome was 1.37 (95% CI 1.26-1.49, P<0.001).
Conclusions: The scoring system with abdominal ultrasonography could provide accurate information about hepatic steatosis, visceral obesity, and the metabolic syndrome in apparently healthy people who do not consume alcohol.