Ultrasound key to detect fatty liver disease early: Experts

New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) Ultrasound is important to detect fatty liver disease early, said experts on Thursday noting that blood tests may not be enough for a faster diagnosis.

Currently, the diagnosis of fatty liver disease mainly relies on a combination of patient history, physical examination, and blood tests, including liver enzyme levels and markers of liver function.

However, the experts noted that imaging studies, such as ultrasound and fibro scan, can help visualise the liver and detect fat accumulation even in cases where liver enzyme levels may not show any significant deviation.

“Early and accurate detection through imaging techniques like ultrasound could lead to timely interventions, lifestyle modifications, and treatment plans that could significantly improve patient outcomes. Therefore, I urge healthcare professionals to consider adopting ultrasound as a more routine diagnostic tool for fatty liver disease and using its benefits more widely to enhance patient care,” said Dr Akash Roy, Senior Hepatologist at Apollo Hospitals, Kolkata.

Fatty liver disease is related to obesity and diabetes. Consuming excessive carbs raises insulin levels, and chronic high insulin levels lead to insulin resistance. This disrupts metabolism and converts excess glucose into fatty acids, which are stored in the liver.

It can be classified into two main types: alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD/MASLD) — linked to liver inflammation and damage, eventually leading to fibrosis, cirrhosis, or liver cancer.

In a recent study by Apollo Hospitals on 53,946 people, who underwent preventive health check-ups, 33 per cent were diagnosed with fatty liver.

However, among those with fatty liver, only 1 in 3 had their liver enzymes elevated, indicating that diagnosis interventions in our healthcare systems need to go beyond just relying on blood tests for early detection and reversal of such conditions in all individuals, said the experts.

“Early detection is critical for effective management of fatty liver disease. Ultrasound imaging plays a vital role in identifying the grades of fatty liver, even in its silent stages. By leveraging ultrasound technology, we can detect fatty liver disease before symptoms appear, and prevent its progression to more severe liver damage,” Dr Pavan Dhoble, Junior Consultant – Gastroenterology, P. D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mahim, told IANS.



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