Hepatic steatosis and fibrosis: Non-invasive assessment

World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Dec 7;22(45):9880-9897. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i45.9880.


Chronic liver disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and usually develops over many years, as a result of chronic inflammation and scarring, resulting in end-stage liver disease and its complications. The progression of disease is characterised by ongoing inflammation and consequent fibrosis, although hepatic steatosis is increasingly being recognised as an important pathological feature of disease, rather than being simply an innocent bystander. However, the current gold standard method of quantifying and staging liver disease, histological analysis by liver biopsy, has several limitations and can have associated morbidity and even mortality. Therefore, there is a clear need for safe and non-invasive assessment modalities to determine hepatic steatosis, inflammation and fibrosis. This review covers key mechanisms and the importance of fibrosis and steatosis in the progression of liver disease. We address non-invasive imaging and blood biomarker assessments that can be used as an alternative to information gained on liver biopsy.

Keywords: Blood biomarker; Fibrosis; Hepatic steatosis; Non-invasive assessment; Ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Biopsy
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques
  • Fatty Liver / blood
  • Fatty Liver / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Portal / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / blood
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography


  • Biomarkers