Fatty liver disease: a new procedure improves diagnosis
According to experts, around a quarter of the population is affected by the widespread fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can develop as a result of factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise or certain diseases. Excessive and regular consumption of alcohol often leads to alcoholic fatty liver disease. Alcohol is more often the cause than previously thought, as researchers now report. And hair markers can help improve diagnosis.
Whether a person has non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) plays an important role in therapy and prognosis, but cannot be reliably determined with methods currently established diagnostics. But a new method significantly improves the diagnosis of these diseases, as now shown in a study published in the journal "Journal of Hepatology".
If non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is suspected, often excessive alcohol consumption
In the study, led by the Medical University (MedUni) of Vienna, the alcohol consumption of 184 patients hospitalized with NAFLD or ALD in specialist outpatient liver clinics in the 'Vienna University Hospital (Vienna City General Hospital) and other centers in Oberndorf and Vienna were examined were treated.
According to a statement, the research team led by Katharina Staufer and Michael Trauner, heads of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital, compared the results of alcohol detection methods currently being used with values from a new test. procedure.
This procedure consists of a combination of alcohol ethyl glucuronide parameters in hair (hEtG) and urine (uEtG) and the AUDIT-C questionnaire (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test).
Thus, repeated moderate to excessive alcohol consumption has been detected in about 29% of people with alcohol-related liver disease, but also in about 29% of patients suspected of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
About a quarter of the population is affected
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is associated with obesity (obesity) and insulin resistance as part of the metabolic syndrome and affects up to 25% of the population.
NAFLD is the most commonly diagnosed chronic liver disease in the world today. However, the diagnosis of NAFLD excludes alcohol in harmful amounts as the cause.
In medical research, the influence of low to moderate alcohol consumption on the development and progression of fatty liver disease has not yet been definitively elucidated.
In patients with an alcohol consumption greater than 60 g of ethanol/day (this corresponds to approximately 1.5 liters of beer or 0.75 liters of wine/day), it has been shown that serious consequential damage such as as steatohepatitis (fatty liver hepatitis), fibrosis (scarring of the liver) up to cirrhosis of the liver.
However, current studies assume significantly lower potentially harmful amounts of alcohol of 10-20 g ethanol/day, above which alcohol-associated liver disease cannot be excluded with certainty.
The amount of alcohol consumed is often given as lower
It is important to identify potentially harmful alcohol consumption in patients with fatty liver disease at an early stage in order to be able to offer optimal treatment recommendations.
However, as many people often report less or not at all the amount of alcohol consumed - whether through retrospective underestimation of their own consumption, fear of stigma or as part of an alcohol-related illness alcohol - this often proves difficult in clinical practice.
"Ethylglucuronide measurement in hair and urine in addition to AUDIT-C can help record alcohol consumption and thus often allow an open discussion of actual alcohol consumption and its consequential harm to the first time,” says first author Katharina Staufer (Clinical Transplantation Division of MedUni Vienna/Vienna General Hospital).
"The stigma that still often accompanies alcohol-related liver damage in society must be dismantled and optimal treatment made possible."
In this context, over the past two decades, experts have proposed renaming NAFLD to fatty liver disease associated with metabolic dysfunction (MAFLD). “The results of our study will further improve diagnostic criteria for fatty liver disease,” says Michael Trauner. (ad)
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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Sources:Medical University of Vienna: New Procedure Improves Diagnosis of Fatty Liver Disease, (Accessed: July 6, 2022), Medical University of Vienna Katharina Staufer, Ursula Huber-Schönauer, Georg Strebinger, Philipp Pimingstorfer, Silke Suesse, Thomas-Matthias Scherzer , Bernhard Paulweber, Peter Ferenci, Thomas Stimpfl, Michel Yegles, Christian Datz, Michael Trauner: Ethyl Glucuronide in Hair Detects High Rate of Harmful Alcohol Consumption in Suspected Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease; in: Journal of Hepatology, (published: 05/19/2022), Journal of Hepatology
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.