This specific type of liver disease develops when the liver has difficulty breaking down fats and causes a buildup in the tissue which prevents it from functioning properly.

Currently, one in four people worldwide is affected by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Of those affected, approximately 25 percent progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This can lead to liver scarring, medically referred to as fibrosis and eventually to cirrhosis. The stage of fibrosis is highly associated with the risk for poor outcomes.

People at Risk

Fatty liver disease is often linked to:

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • High intake of cholesterol or added sugar


Patients often do not have noticeable symptoms of fatty liver disease. It is most commonly discovered through elevated liver enzymes during routine blood work or abnormal liver appearance on imaging tests. Some people display symptoms of:

  • Fatigue
  • Discomfort or pain in the right upper abdomen
  • Patients with advanced liver disease (cirrhosis) may develop additional symptoms


The key to diagnosing someone with NAFLD is to identify those who have already developed NASH and fibrosis. OSU provides the latest testing to confirm these diagnoses. Besides an ultrasound, CT (computed tomography), or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), we also offer:

  • Fibroscan: A simple, clinic-performed liver scan to check fibrosis
  • MR elastography: A more sophisticated and reliable imaging test to check liver fibrosis
  • MR PDFF: An imaging test used to quantify the liver fat
  • Liver biopsy: A tissue sample removed from the liver by needle for examination. Currently, this is the most reliable test to diagnose NASH and fibrosis


Our metabolic liver clinic provides multidisciplinary treatment for patients with NAFLD. We partner closely with experts in bariatric surgery, endocrinology, and nutrition to create a personalized treatment plan to help you manage your disease.

  • Lifestyle modification: This is the best defense against NAFLD symptoms. Our comprehensive wellness program will help provide you with weight management and nutritional tools to help alleviate symptoms of fatty liver disease.

    • Patient education class: Basics of diet and exercise for fatty liver by Razan Hallak, RD
      Where: Virtual class via Zoom
      When: The 3rd Monday of every month from 3:30-4:30pm
      How: call 614-2936255 to schedule

  • Medical therapy

From our experts

Na Li, MD, PhD, a gastroenterologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, describes fatty liver disease and its causes and risk factors, as well as how Ohio State’s expert team approaches diagnosing, treating and controlling fatty liver disease long-term.
Fatty Liver Disease Clinical Trials

Fatty Liver Disease Clinical Trials

Currently there are multiple phase II and III clinical trials being conducted globally for NASH treatment. Please contact our liver specialists or research coordinator Gabrielle Volk ( if you are interested in participating.

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