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Liver disease isn’t exclusive to alcohol drinkers. In fact, the American Liver Foundation estimates that 80 million Americans have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Although NAFLD typically lacks symptoms until its later stages, it’s one of the leading reasons for liver transplants.
In the past, a biopsy was necessary to evaluate the level of scar tissue (called “fibrosis”) present in the liver. FibroScan® removes the need for biopsy in many cases, and we’re one of the only practices in San Antonio that offers it!
Fatty liver is an umbrella term that applies to many different conditions, including alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). AFLD is caused by alcohol-related damage, which makes the liver unable to efficiently process fat cells, so it stores them instead. This condition will typically reverse itself if you stop drinking.
NAFLD is trickier to manage than its alcoholic cousin. We don’t know the exact cause of NAFLD, but it seems to be associated with obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. When liver cells accumulate too much fat, they burst and your body replaces them with fibrosis. We’ll generally categorize NAFLD according to four stages:
A blood test is often the first step we take when diagnosing NAFLD, followed by a traditional imaging ultrasound. In the past, an invasive biopsy was then necessary to measure the extent of scar tissue in your liver. No longer! FibroScan is a simple, noninvasive test that measures liver fibrosis in just 5 minutes, a crucial step toward evaluating the stage of your condition. Although a biopsy may still be necessary, FibroScan can help many people with middle-stage cases of NAFLD avoid a biopsy altogether.
Late-stage fatty liver disease refers to cirrhosis and liver failure, which occurs when fibrosis has replaced enough liver cells to inhibit normal function. You may begin to experience serious symptoms at this point, including:
Don’t let your fatty liver progress! Effective management is possible at GCSA. Not only are our doctors up-to-date on the latest fatty liver treatment strategies, we’re also affiliated with Pinnacle Clinical Research. They’re pioneering new techniques and medications to help nonalcoholic fatty liver by conducting late-stage clinical trials.
To schedule an appointment or learn more about how Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio specializes in fatty liver treatment in the San Antonio communities of Medical Center, Stone Oak, Northeast, Westover Hills, Boerne or Bulverde, call 210.614.1234 today. You can also request an appointment online here.