Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Noninvasive methods of diagnosing hepatic steatosis.
Hepatic steatosis is the buildup of lipids within hepatocytes. It is the simplest stage in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It occurs in approximately 30% of the general population and as much as 90% of the obese population in the United States. It may progress to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, which is a state of hepatocellular inflammation and damage in response to the accumulated fat. Liver biopsy remains the gold standard tool to diagnose and stage NAFLD. However, it comes with the risk of complications ranging from simple pain to life-threatening bleeding. It is also associated with sampling error. For these reasons, a variety of noninvasive radiological markers, including ultrasound, computed tomography, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and the controlled attenuation parameter using transient elastography and Xenon-133 scan have been proposed to increase our ability to diagnose NAFLD, hence avoiding liver biopsy. The aim of this review is to discuss the utility and accuracy of using available noninvasive diagnostic modalities for fatty liver in NAFLD.