Reducing NAFLD-Screening Time: A Comparative Study of Eight Diagnostic Methods Offering an Alternative to Ultrasound Scans

Filippo Procino; Giovanni Misciagna; Nicola Veronese; Maria G. Caruso; Marisa Chiloiro; Anna M. Cisternino; Maria Notarnicola; Caterina Bonfiglio; Irene Bruno; Claudia Buongiorno; Angelo Campanella; Valentina Deflorio; Isabella Franco; Rocco Guerra; Carla M. Leone; Antonella Mirizzi; Alessandro Nitti; Alberto R. Osella; MICOL GROUP


Liver International. 2019;39(1):187-196. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background & Aims: The use of ultrasound scan (US) in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) screening overloads US waiting lists. We hypothesized and tested a hybrid two-step method, consisting of applying a formula, to exclude subjects at low risk, before US.

Methods: The sample included 2970 males and females (937 with NAFLD) diagnosed by US. We selected eight formulas: Fatty Liver Index (FLI), Hepatic Steatosis Index (HIS), body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), Abdominal Volume Index (AVI), waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), waist/height0.5 (WHT.5R) and Body Roundness Index (BRI), and calculated their performance in the two-step method evaluating percentage reduction of the number of liver US (US reduction percentage), percentage of false negative and percentage of NAFLD identified.

Results: The US reductions percentage were 52.2% (WHtR), 52.1% (HIS), 51.8% (FLI), 50.8% (BRI), 50.7% (BMI and WHt_5R), 46.5% (WC) and 45.2% (AVI). The false negative percentage were 8.5% (WHtR), 7.9% (BRI), 7.3% (WHt_5R), 7.2% (BMI), 6.7% (HIS), 6.6% (FLI), 5.6% (WC) and 5.2% (AVI). The best percentage of NALFD identified was obtained using AVI (83.6%) before US, then WC (82.2%), FLI (79%), HIS (78.9%), BMI (77.3%), WHt_5R (76.9%), BRI (74.8%) and WHtR (73%).

Conclusion: The best formula to use in two-step diagnostic NAFLD screening was AVI, which showed a low false negative rate and a higher percentage of identified NAFLD. Other studies evaluating the economic advantages of this screening method are warranted.