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Int J Clin Exp Med. 2010 Jul 15;3(3):202-10.

Prevalence of ultrasound-diagnosed non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in a hospital cohort and its association with anthropometric, biochemical and sonographic characteristics.

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Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital Regensburg Germany.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is considered as the most common liver disease in Western countries with still rising prevalence due to a lifestyle favoring the development of the metabolic syndrome.


To investigate the prevalence of ultrasound-diagnosed NAFLD in patients with referral for sonographic examination of the abdomen, and to determine risk factors.


After exclusion of patients with known liver disease or risk factors for secondary NAFLD, a total of 155 arbitrarily selected patients (mean age 53.6±17.4 years; 52.6% male) from the interdisciplinary ultrasound department of a German University Hospital were included in this prospective study. Each patient underwent a standardized ultrasound, anthropometric and biochemical examination.


The prevalence of ultrasound-diagnosed NAFLD was 40.0%. NAFLD-patients had significantly higher body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio, higher rates of reported hypertension and diabetes mellitus, and lower HDL cholesterol serum levels. Furthermore, NAFLD-patients revealed significantly higher serum ALT levels (23.2±22.1 U/l vs. 15.0±8.2 U/l; p=0.001), lower AST/ALT ratio (1.76±0.79 vs. 2.11±0.94; p=0.019), and notably, decreased flow in the portal vein (22.9±6.3 cm/s vs. 26.7±10.5 cm/s; p=0.011). Multivariate analysis revealed BMI (odds ratio (OR): 14.05; 95% Confidence interval (CI): 3.3-59.8), AST/ALT ratio (OR: 0.39; CI: 0.18-0.82), and HDL-C (OR: 4.33; CI: 1.6-11.9) as independent risk factors.


Ultrasound-diagnosed NAFLD is frequent in patients with referral for ultrasound examination of the abdomen, and our findings further support that NAFLD is the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome with obesity being the most important risk factor.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); diagnosis; obesity; prospective study; risk factor; ultrasound


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