We report the evidence-based Italian Association for the Study of Liver guidelines for the appropriate diagnosis and management of patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in clinical practice and its related research agenda. The prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease varies according to age, gender and ethnicity. In the general population, the prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is about 25% and the incidence is of two new cases/100 people/year. 2-3% of individuals in the general population will suffer from nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Uncomplicated steatosis will usually follow a benign course. Individuals with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, however, have a reduced life expectancy, mainly owing to vascular diseases and liver-related causes. Moreover, steatosis has deleterious effects on the natural history of HCV infection. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is usually diagnosed in asymptomatic patients prompted by the occasional discovery of increased liver enzymes and/or of ultrasonographic steatosis. Medical history, complete physical examination, etiologic screening of liver injury, liver biochemistry tests, serum lipids and insulin sensitivity tests should be performed in every patient. Occult alcohol abuse should be ruled out. Ultrasonography is the first-line imaging technique. Liver biopsy, the gold standard in diagnosis and prognosis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, is an invasive procedure and its results will not influence treatment in most cases but will provide prognostic information. Assessment of fibrosis by composite scores, specific laboratory parameters and transient elastography might reduce the number of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease patients requiring liver biopsy. Dieting and physical training reinforced by behavioural therapy are associated with improved nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Diabetes and the metabolic syndrome should be ruled out at timed intervals in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis patients should undergo periodic evaluation of cardiovascular risk and of advancement of their liver disease; those with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis-cirrhosis should be evaluated for early diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma.
- Fatty Liver
- Societies, Medical