Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Fibrosis Score: Uses and Results

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a term for health problems caused by a buildup of fat in the liver. It is often found in overweight or obese people.

NAFLD is the most common liver disease worldwide, affecting 25% of the world’s population. The number of people with NAFLD is expected to increase because overweight and obesity rates are risingincluding in children.

The condition can lead to liver scarring, also called liver fibrosis. If the fibrosis progresses further, it can lead to liver cancer, cirrhosis, or liver failure.

If your doctor suspects you have NAFLD, they may use diagnostic tests to determine how many liver scars you have, if any. These may include a panel of blood tests used to calculate your NAFLD fibrosis score.

Keep reading to learn more about the NAFLD fibrosis score, including when it’s used, how it’s calculated, and how to interpret the results.

Doctors use the NAFLD fibrosis score to predict the risk and degree of fibrosis.

The score is based on a panel of tests that look for markers in your blood. Some of the factors calculated into your score include:

  • your blood sugar
  • albumin
  • platelet count
  • age
  • height to weight ratio (body mass index or BMI)
  • state of diabetes

The test also measures the ratios of two liver enzymes, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT).

Your doctor may recommend that you get a fibrosis score as a way to rule out advanced liver fibrosis, without having to undergo a more invasive procedure like a liver biopsy.

If the score does not definitively rule out fibrosis, your doctor may recommend additional testing.

People who have a NAFLD fibrosis score greater than 0.676 are most likely to have advanced liver fibrosis.

If you have a score below -1.455, you are unlikely to have advanced liver fibrosis.

Intermediate scores are considered indeterminate, according to Quest Diagnostics, a clinical laboratory that performs the tests. If you have an indeterminate fibrosis score, you may need additional testing.

A NAFLD fibrosis score is based on a panel of blood tests, while a FibroScan uses ultrasound technology to measure hardness and fatty changes in your liver.

Doctors typically use a FibroScan to learn more about the severity and progression of your liver condition and to determine treatment.

During a FibroScan test, you lie on your back while a technician places an ultrasound probe on the skin at your liver. It usually takes about 10 minutes.

After the test, you will receive a report with a liver stiffness score, which measures the stiffness of your liver, as well as scores indicating the amount of fat accumulated in your liver cells.

Your Liver Stiffness results determine if your liver is normal or if you have mild, moderate, severe or advanced liver scarring.

Other diagnostic tests your doctor may use if you have been diagnosed with, or are suspected of having, NAFLD include the following.

Physical examination

Your doctor may examine you by touch for signs of cirrhosis such as an enlarged spleen or an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites). They may also look for signs of insulin resistance.

Other tests

Your doctor may also prescribe:

  • additional blood tests
  • imaging tests such as a CT scan (computed tomography), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), or special types of ultrasound to look for lumps or lumps on your liver.
  • a liver biopsy, in which small pieces of tissue are removed from your liver and examined under a microscope to determine the extent of liver damage

Why do doctors use the NAFLD fibrosis score and FibroScan tests?

Many doctors prefer the NAFLD score and FibroScan tests because they are fairly quick, non-invasive, and give a good idea of ​​whether or not liver scarring is present or progressing.

Doctors can use the results of these tests to determine if more invasive tests, such as a liver biopsy, are needed.

How is the NAFLD fibrosis score calculated?

Some of the factors that determine your score include your blood sugar, albumin, platelet count, age, BMI, and diabetes status.

The score also measures the ratios of two liver enzymes: aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT).

Can NAFLD fibrosis scores improve?

Depending on the stage of your condition, you can repair or reverse NAFLD-related scars with various interventions such as diet changes, lifestyle modification, and weight loss (if needed).

A little study 2018 showed improvement in 39 patients after 6 months of lifestyle modification.

Another one study showed recovery in obese patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery.

Healing your liver is all about eliminating what caused the disease. As your liver condition improves, your scores improve.

Can the liver cure fibrosis?

A study 2019 found that a 10% to 45% regression of fibrosis is possible with lifestyle modifications.

Your test results should indicate the amount of scarring in your liver. If you have normal levels, that means there are no scars. If you have moderate or severe scarring, you can reverse or repair the damage through lifestyle changes and other interventions.

Cirrhosis usually cannot be reversed, but you can slow the progression if you catch it early enough. A Report on studies 2017 indicates that progress is being made in this area.

NAFLD is a common disease that is on the rise worldwide. This refers to an excessive buildup of fat in your liver. This can lead to liver scarring and serious liver damage such as cirrhosis.

If your doctor suspects you have NAFLD, you may be asked to take a panel of blood tests to determine your NAFLD fibrosis score. These tests will suggest if there is scarring to the liver.

Your doctor may also order an ultrasound called FibroScan. This test can help determine the amount of fat buildup in your liver as well as its stiffness.

Both tests are non-invasive and will give you a good idea of ​​where you are. If you catch NAFLD early enough, liver scarring can be reversed. If you already have severe liver damage or cirrhosis, you may be able to slow the progression of your condition.

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