* Not a rare disease
Other Names for this Disease
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
Tests & Diagnosis
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NASH is usually first suspected when elevations are noted in liver tests that are included in routine blood test panels. These may include alanine aminotransferase (ALT) or aspartate aminotransferase (AST). When further evaluation shows no apparent reason for liver disease (such as medications, viral hepatitis, or excessive use of alcohol) and when x-rays or imaging studies of the liver show fat, NASH is suspected. The only way to definitely diagnosis NASH and separate it from simple fatty liver is through a liver biopsy. For a liver biopsy, a needle is inserted through the skin to remove a small piece of the liver. NASH is diagnosed when examination of the tissue with a microscope shows fat along with inflammation and damage to liver cells. If the tissue shows fat without inflammation and damage, simple fatty liver or NAFLD is diagnosed. An important piece of information learned from the biopsy is whether scar tissue has developed in the liver. Blood tests and scans cannot reliably provide this information at this time.
Last updated: 2/24/2012
- Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). 2006; http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/nash/.