1 a Internal Medicine Unit , Azienda USL of Modena, Pavullo Hospital , Modena , Italy.
2 b Ospedale Civile di Baggiovara, Metabolic Medicine Unit , Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria of Modena , Modena , Italy.
3 c Ospedale Civile di Baggiovara, Metabolic Medicine Unit , Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria of Modena and University of Modena and Reggio Emilia , Modena , Italy.
4 d Interventional Ultrasound Unit , Pineta Grande Hospital , Castel Volturno , Italy.
Introduction: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) spans steatosis through nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). NAFLD carries an increased risk of cardio-metabolic and liver-related events accounting for a substantial economic burden. Given that the natural history of NAFLD is critically dependent on the stage of fibrosis, non-invasively identifying the subgroup of patients at a higher risk of progressive disease is key. Areas covered: This review highlights the recent developments in the use of ultrasound-based techniques in NAFLD and their performance in predicting metabolic derangements, cardiovascular risk, and progression of liver disease, notably including diagnosis of fibrosing NASH, identification, and treatment of HCC. Expert opinion: Our ability to identify NAFLD patients and to estimate steatofibrosis with various ultrasound-based techniques has undergone tremendous progress over the last few years. However, it is more difficult to capture the inflammatory component of NASH with such ultrasound-assisted techniques. Moreover, semi-quantitative, quantitative, elastographic, and contrast-enhanced ultrasound techniques are increasingly being appreciated and made available but not all such techniques will gain success in the clinical and research area. Therefore, further research will precisely define the role of the most innovative ultrasonographic techniques, while reducing costs and increasing feasibility.