Liver investigation in 149 asymptomatic patients with moderately elevated activities of serum aminotransferases

Scand J Gastroenterol. 1986 Jan;21(1):109-13. doi: 10.3109/00365528609034632.


The accidental finding of raised levels of serum aminotransferase levels may lead to extensive investigations of the liver in apparently healthy people. To identify diagnostic groups and their need for investigations, we have evaluated the results of all investigative procedures carried out in 149 asymptomatic patients with persistently raised serum levels of aminotransferases. Fatty liver was found in 64%. These patients often had a high body weight. A high alcohol intake and diabetes mellitus were also noted. Chronic active or persistent hepatitis was found in 20% of the patients. Six per cent had cirrhosis, 4% had alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency, and 3.5% had hemochromatosis. Apart from ferritin, alpha 1-antitrypsin, and markers for hepatitis B, blood tests were of little value for distinguishing among different diagnostic groups. This was the case also for the imaging procedures, and neither liver scintigraphy nor ultrasonography was a reliable source of diagnostic information. The results of our study indicate that diagnosis in this group of patients cannot be made without liver biopsy.

MeSH terms

  • Alanine Transaminase / blood*
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood*
  • Fatty Liver / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Hepatitis / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnosis
  • Liver Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Liver Diseases / enzymology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alanine Transaminase