How is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) diagnosed?

Liver Health

Learn more about the diagnosis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease


Emily Condon
BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences

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How is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) diagnosed?

Information about NAFLD

If you present any symptoms of liver disease, a doctor will ask about your lifestyles factors including your diet and your alcohol intake to distinguish between alcohol-related and non-alcoholic related liver disease. A physical examination may be performed to check if the liver or spleen is enlarged and a liver function blood test is an excellent way to check for specific markers which are indicative of liver health. The liver enzymes gamma GT (GGT), alanine transferase (ALT) and aspartate transferase (AST) can be elevated if the liver is damaged or if the biliary system is obstructed.

If the NAFLD diagnosis is linked to being overweight, then the doctor will most likely advise various lifestyle changes such as taking steps to lose weight and exercising regularly. Occasionally, for mild cases of NAFLD, a doctor may focus more on associated conditions that can cause the build-up of fat in the liver such as high cholesterol and diabetes.

Once an individual has been diagnosed with NAFLD, the enhanced liver fibrosis (ELF) score can be used to detect the stage of liver fibrosis. A doctor may diagnose advanced liver fibrosis if the individual has been diagnosed with NAFLD and their ELF score is 10.51 or above. 


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