1UCL Institute for Liver and Digestive Health, Royal Free Hospital and UCL, London NW3 2QG, UK.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is prevalent in 20-25% of the general population and is associated with metabolic risk factors such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia. Histologically, NAFLD ranges from simple steatosis to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis, and cirrhosis. As NASH develops in only 10-15% of patients with NAFLD, it is not practical to biopsy all patients who present with NAFLD. Noninvasive fibrosis tests have been extensively developed recently and offer alternatives for staging fibrosis. Despite their increasing use, such tests cannot adequately differentiate simple steatosis from NASH. At present, such tests can be used as first line tests to rule out patients without advanced fibrosis and thus prevent unnecessary secondary care referrals in a significant number of patients. In this review we present the evidence for the use of noninvasive fibrosis tests in patients with NAFLD.