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Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease - Article
ABSTRACT: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a common condition associated with metabolic syndrome. It is the most common cause of elevated liver enzymes in U.S. adults, and is diagnosed after ruling out other causes of steatosis (fatty infiltration of liver), particularly infectious hepatitis and alcohol abuse. Liver biopsy may be considered if greater diagnostic and prognostic certainty is desired, particularly in patients with diabetes, patients who are morbidly obese, and in patients with an aspartate transaminase to alanine transaminase ratio greater than one, because these patients are at risk of having more advanced disease. Weight loss is the primary treatment for obese patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Medications used to treat insulin resistance, hyperlipidemia, and obesity have been shown to improve transaminase levels, steatosis, and histologic findings. However, no treatments have been shown to affect patient-oriented outcomes.
ABSTRACT: Cirrhosis and chronic liver failure are leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States, with the majority of preventable cases attributed to excessive alcohol consumption, viral hepatitis, or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Cirrhosis often is an indolent disease; most patients remain asymptomatic until the occurrence of decompensation, characterized by ascites, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, hepatic encephalopathy, or variceal bleeding from portal hypertension. Physical examination of patients with cirrhosis may reveal a variety of findings that necessitate a hepatic- or gastrointestinal-based work-up to determine the etiology. Some patients already may have had laboratory or radiographic tests that incidentally uncovered signs of cirrhosis and its comorbidities. No serologic or radiographic test can accurately diagnose cirrhosis. A significant correlation has been demonstrated between persistently elevated liver function tests and biopsy-proven underlying hepatic disease; thus, a more targeted serologic work-up is indicated in patients whose liver function test results are persistently abnormal. Unnecessary medications and surgical procedures should be avoided in patients with cirrhosis. Referral for liver biopsy should be considered only after a thorough, non-invasive serologic and radiographic evaluation has failed to confirm a diagnosis of cirrhosis; the benefit of biopsy outweighs the risk; and it is postulated that biopsy will have a favorable impact on the treatment of chronic liver disease.
ABSTRACT: Gastrointestinal complications of diabetes include gastroparesis, intestinal enteropathy (which can cause diarrhea, constipation, and fecal incontinence), and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Patients with gastroparesis may present with early satiety, nausea, vomiting, bloating, postprandial fullness, or upper abdominal pain. The diagnosis of diabetic gastroparesis is made when other causes are excluded and postprandial gastric stasis is confirmed by gastric emptying scintigraphy. Whenever possible, patients should discontinue medications that exacerbate gastric dysmotility; control blood glucose levels; increase the liquid content of their diet; eat smaller meals more often; discontinue the use of tobacco products; and reduce the intake of insoluble dietary fiber, foods high in fat, and alcohol. Prokinetic agents (e.g., metoclopramide, erythromycin) may be helpful in controlling symptoms of gastroparesis. Treatment of diabetes-related constipation and diarrhea is aimed at supportive measures and symptom control. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is common in persons who are obese and who have diabetes. In persons with diabetes who have elevated hepatic transaminase levels, it is important to search for other causes of liver disease, including hepatitis and hemochromatosis. Gradual weight loss, control of blood glucose levels, and use of medications (e.g., pioglitazone, metformin) may normalize hepatic transaminase levels, but the clinical benefit of aggressively treating nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is unknown. Controlling blood glucose levels is important for managing most gastrointestinal complications.
Liver Disease in Pregnancy - Article
ABSTRACT: Acute viral hepatitis is the most common cause of jaundice in pregnancy. The course of acute hepatitis is unaffected by pregnancy, except in patients with hepatitis E and disseminated herpes simplex infections, in which maternal and fetal mortality rates are significantly increased. Chronic hepatitis B or C infections may be transmitted to neonates; however, hepatitis B virus transmission is effectively prevented with perinatal hepatitis B vaccination and prophylaxis with hepatitis B immune globulin. Cholelithiasis occurs in 6 percent of pregnancies; complications can safely be treated with surgery. Women with chronic liver disease or cirrhosis exhibit a higher risk of fetal loss during pregnancy. Preeclampsia is associated with HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count) syndrome, acute fatty liver of pregnancy, and hepatic infarction and rupture. These rare diseases result in increased maternal and fetal mortality. Treatment involves prompt delivery, whereupon the liver disease quickly reverses. Therapy with penicillamine, trientine, prednisone or azathioprine can be safely continued during pregnancy.
ABSTRACT: Mild elevations in levels of the liver enzymes alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase are commonly discovered in asymptomatic patients in primary care. Evidence to guide the diagnostic workup is limited. If the history and physical examination do not suggest a cause, a stepwise evaluation should be initiated based on the prevalence of diseases that cause mild elevations in transaminase levels. The most common cause is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which can affect up to 30 percent of the population. Other common causes include alcoholic liver disease, medication-associated liver injury, viral hepatitis (hepatitis B and C), and hemochromatosis. Less common causes includea1-antitrypsin deficiency, autoimmune hepatitis, and Wilson disease. Extrahepatic conditions (e.g., thyroid disorders, celiac disease, hemolysis, muscle disorders) can also cause elevated liver transaminase levels. Initial testing should include a fasting lipid profile; measurement of glucose, serum iron, and ferritin; total iron-binding capacity; and hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis C virus antibody testing. If test results are normal, a trial of lifestyle modification with observation or further testing for less common causes is appropriate. Additional testing may include ultrasonography; measurement of a1-antitrypsin and ceruloplasmin; serum protein electrophoresis; and antinuclear antibody, smooth muscle antibody, and liver/kidney microsomal antibody type 1 testing. Referral for further evaluation and possible liver biopsy is recommended if transaminase levels remain elevated for six months or more.
Weight Loss for Patients with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease - Cochrane for Clinicians
ABSTRACT: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is characterized by excessive fat accumulation in the liver (hepatic steatosis). Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is characterized by steatosis, liver cell injury, and inflammation. The mechanism of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is unknown but involves the development of insulin resistance, steatosis, inflammatory cytokines, and oxidative stress. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is associated with physical inactivity, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Screening is not recommended in the general population. The diagnosis is usually made after an incidental discovery of unexplained elevation of liver enzyme levels or when steatosis is noted on imaging (e.g., ultrasonography). Patients are often asymptomatic and the physical examination is often unremarkable. No single laboratory test is diagnostic, but tests of liver function, tests for metabolic syndrome, and tests to exclude other causes of abnormal liver enzyme levels are routinely performed. Imaging studies, such as ultrasonography, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging, can assess hepatic fat, measure liver and spleen size, and exclude other diseases. Liver biopsy remains the criterion standard for the diagnosis of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Noninvasive tests are available and may reduce the need for liver biopsy. A healthy diet, weight loss, and exercise are first-line therapeutic measures to reduce insulin resistance. There is insufficient evidence to support bariatric surgery, metformin, thiazolidinediones, bile acids, or antioxidant supplements for the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The long-term prognosis is not associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or liver disease.