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Hepatol Commun. 2017 Feb 27;1(1):53-60. doi: 10.1002/hep4.1018. eCollection 2017 Feb.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease-related cirrhosis is commonly unrecognized and associated with hepatocellular carcinoma.

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School of Medicine and Pharmacology University of Western Australia Nedlands Western Australia Australia.
Department of Hepatology Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital Nedlands Western Australia Australia.


Determination of cirrhosis in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is important as it alters prognosis and management. We aimed to examine whether cirrhosis was diagnosed incidentally or intentionally in patients with NAFLD. We reviewed 100 patients with NAFLD cirrhosis to determine mode of cirrhosis diagnosis (incidental or by intent), severity of liver disease at diagnosis, diagnostician, and previous clinical imaging or laboratory evidence of unrecognized cirrhosis. The majority (66/100) of patients with NAFLD cirrhosis were diagnosed incidentally, with the majority of these (74%) diagnosed with NAFLD simultaneously. Those with incidental cirrhosis diagnoses had more deranged platelet and international normalized ratio levels (P < 0.05) and were more likely to have concomitant hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) (12% versus 0%, P < 0.05). Incidental cirrhosis was diagnosed following imaging (32%) or liver tests (26%) performed for reasons unrelated to liver disease, following unexpected endoscopic finding of varices (21%) or an unexpected surgical finding (14%). Diagnoses by intent were predominantly made by gastroenterologists/hepatologists, whereas general practitioners, surgeons, and physicians tended to diagnose cirrhosis incidentally (P < 0.001). The majority of patients diagnosed incidentally (n = 48/66, 73%) had previous thrombocytopenia, splenomegaly, or high noninvasive fibrosis scores. Following diagnosis, patients diagnosed incidentally were less likely to undergo HCC screening. Conclusion: The majority of patients with NAFLD cirrhosis are diagnosed incidentally. These patients are more likely to have advanced liver disease and HCC. Increased awareness of screening for cirrhosis is needed in patients with NAFLD. (Hepatology Communications 2017;1:53-60).

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