Noninvasive Algorithms for the Case Finding of "At-Risk" Patients with NAFLD

Semin Liver Dis. 2022 Aug;42(3):313-326. doi: 10.1055/s-0042-1751081. Epub 2022 Jul 14.


Despite the high prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in primary care (25%), only a small minority (< 5%) of NAFLD patients will develop advanced liver fibrosis. The challenge is to identify these patients, who are at the greatest risk of developing complications and need to be referred to liver clinics for specialized management. The focus should change from patients with abnormal liver tests toward patients "at risk of NAFLD," namely those with metabolic risk factors, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Non-invasive tests are well validated for diagnosing advanced fibrosis. Algorithms using FIB-4 as the first-line test, followed, if positive (≥ 1.3), by transient elastography or a patented blood test are the best strategy to define pathways for "at-risk" NAFLD patients from primary care to liver clinics. Involving general practitioners actively and raising their awareness regarding NAFLD and non-invasive tests are critical to establish such pathways.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Biopsy / adverse effects
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / diagnosis
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / etiology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease* / complications
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease* / diagnosis
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease* / epidemiology