There is some concern that the prevalence of diseases like NASH and NAFLD may increase in the coming years.
There is a lot of concern over the growing rates of liver disease in the US, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), alcohol-associated hepatitis, and cirrhosis.
An increase in alcohol use, as well as rising obesity rates and unhealthy habits picked up during the pandemic has led to a sharp increase in some of these diseases that has clinicians concerned.
Another issue in hepatology is that diseases like NASH and NAFLD do not currently have an approved treatment by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While there is hope a treatment might gain approval in the coming months, the current guidance center around weight loss and lifestyle modifications.
But there remains a need for better diagnostic practices.
One such method is with the ultrasound-based FibroScan, which is a liver elastography that enables clinicians to measure liver stiffness and fatty changes in the liver, potentially opening the door to detect diseases like NASH and NAFLD earlier in the process.
In an interview with HCPLive®, Naim Alkhouri, MD, FAASLD, Chief Medical Officer, Chief of Transplant Hepatology, Director of the Fatty Liver Program, Arizona Liver Health, said FibroScan has improved care for patients with NASH and NAFLD and will become even more important if a treatment is approved.
“I call FibroScan the hepatologists stethoscope because it is really something that I need to see on every patient,” Alkhouri said. “It helps me manage them. So this is how we get the process started in evaluating patients.”