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Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 2019 Feb 27;111. doi: 10.17235/reed.2019.6088/2018. [Epub ahead of print]

Analysis of the burden and variability in the management of NAFLD patients in the clinical practice: unifying the required criteria.

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Aparato Digestivo, Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocio, España.
UNIT for the clinical Management of Digestive Dise, Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío CIBEReh.
Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío.
UCM Digestive Diseases and CIBERehd, Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla (IBiS), SeLiver Group, Virgen del Rocío/CSIC/US, España.
UCM Digestive Diseases and CIBERehd, Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla (IBiS), SeLiver Group, Virgen del Rocío/CSIC/US.



to assess the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in the gastroenterology outpatient clinic and describe the use of the resources accordingly.


a prospective and observational study of 403 patients seen in the gastroenterology outpatient clinic to rule out liver disease during three randomized months in 2016. The overall prevalence of NAFLD, disease severity, heterogeneity of the final diagnosis, the use of medical resources and their respective cost were analyzed.


the main reason for consultation was hypertransaminasemia (42.9%, 173/403), followed by hepatitis C virus (HCV) (28.5%, 115/403). NAFLD was identified as the definitive diagnosis in 29.8% (120/403) of the cohort, 69.2% (83/120) derived by hypertransaminasemia and 24.2% (29/120) by steatosis. Laboratory tests were performed in 96.7% (116/120), abdominal ultrasound in 88.3% (106/120), viral serology in 79.2% (95/120) and autoimmunity in 70% (84/120) of patients with NAFLD. Liver fibrosis was not assessed in 87.5% of cases. In a post-hoc analysis, 12.1% (17/120) had advanced fibrosis by FIB-4. On ultrasound, 65% (73/106) had hepatic steatosis and 15% (17/106) chronic liver disease (significant fibrosis). The mean time for diagnosis was 2.23 ± 0.8 visits. The terminology used to define the clinical diagnosis was heterogeneous as follows: a) 48.3% (58/120) hepatic steatosis; b) 15% (18/120) non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; c) 15.8% (19/120) fatty liver; d) 13.3% (16/120) metabolic syndrome; and e) 7.5% (9/120) dual liver disease (fatty liver and alcohol). A pharmacological intervention was performed in six patients, a liver biopsy in two patients and another six were referred to another specialist. The average cost per patient until diagnosis was 570.78€, which included analytical, autoantibodies, viral serology and abdominal ultrasound, with a mean of 2.5 consultations. Thus, the total expense in patients with NAFLD was 68,493.6€.


NAFLD is a frequent cause of hypertransaminasemia. However, the heterogeneity in the management and terminology of the disease makes it necessary to initiate medical training actions in order to unify the criteria for disease control.

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