Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Patients Attending Two Metropolitan Hospitals in Melbourne, Australia; High Risk Status and Low Prevalence Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease globally, with increased rates in high-risk populations, including type 2 diabetes and obesity. The condition increases the risk of end-stage liver disease, hepatocellular carcinoma and all-cause mortality. NAFLD is asymptomatic and often remains undiagnosed as routine screening in high-risk groups is not practised. AIMS:The aim of this study was to determine the rates and characteristics of NAFLD patients attending liver clinics at two Melbourne metropolitan hospitals. METHODS:Liver clinics were prospectively screened for 10 consecutive months and participants with a diagnosis of NAFLD were further evaluated using pathology and imaging results obtained from medical records. RESULTS:Of the 2050 patients screened, 148 (7%) had NAFLD predominantly diagnosed using ultrasound (81%). NAFLD patients were obese (mean body mass index 30.7 ± 5.9 kg/m2 ), insulin resistant (median HOMA 4.2 (3.2) mmol/L) and had elevated liver enzymes (ALT median, males 47.0 (34.3), females 36.0 (28.0) U/L), and 18% of patients had liver stiffness measuring >12 kPa, suggesting a moderate probability of cirrhosis. Patients with liver stiffness measuring ≥9.6 kPa had significantly higher: glucose (median 5.5 (1.2) vs 6.2 (5.3) mmol/L, P = 0.007), aspartate aminotransferase levels (median 25.5 (26.0) vs 41.0 (62.0) u/L, P = 0.0005) and HOMA (3.1 (3.0) vs 5.4 (5.5) mmol/L, P = 0.040). CONCLUSIONS:NAFLD constituted a minority of liver clinic patients, most of who were obese, insulin resistant and hypertensive, and many had an elevated liver stiffness measurement. NAFLD poses added adverse health outcomes to high-risk patients, and therefore, early detection is warranted.

publication date

  • 2018