Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease care at Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic doctors were the first to identify nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, in a report published in 1980. In the ensuing years, Mayo Clinic researchers have made unparalleled advances in both basic science and clinical care related to the disease.

Your Mayo Clinic care team

At Mayo Clinic, physicians specializing in digestive diseases (gastroenterologists) work with radiologists, pathologists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants to diagnose nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Other specialists who may be part of your team include dietitians, weight-loss (bariatric) specialists and professional counselors to support lifestyle change.

Additional expertise

Diagnosis of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is no longer unusual in children, a group with increasing rates of obesity. Pediatric hepatologists on staff at the Mayo Clinic Children's Center and Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's Hospital at Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus in Rochester, Minn., have experience caring for young patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease at all stages, including end-stage liver disease requiring transplantation. Weight-loss surgeons with pediatric expertise are also on staff at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota. If liver transplantation is necessary, transplant surgeons, transplant-focused hepatologists and nurses who coordinate the transplant program join the care team.

Benefits of collaboration

The multidisciplinary approach at Mayo Clinic lets you benefit from the knowledge and experience of each specialist on your care team. Team members collaborate closely in planning each individual's care. This collaboration also means your appointments will be coordinated and your test results will be available quickly. Evaluation and treatment that might take months elsewhere can typically be done in only a matter of days at Mayo Clinic.

Advanced diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis and staging of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a challenge, partly because standard tests often fail to measure the extent of liver damage accurately. At Mayo Clinic, however, state-of-the-art imaging has made the diagnostic process simpler and more reliable than it was less than a decade ago.

Noninvasive techniques

Thanks to the introduction of noninvasive liver-imaging techniques, many patients being evaluated for possible nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis at Mayo Clinic can avoid liver biopsy. Mayo Clinic researchers developed one of these noninvasive techniques, magnetic resonance elastography (MRE), which measures liver measures liver damage more accurately than do other imaging modalities. Because MRE is a new test, its availability is limited elsewhere.

Mayo Clinic hepatologists and transplant surgeons have also made innovations in the care of patients with obesity, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and end-stage liver disease requiring transplantation. When possible, such patients can participate in an intensive weight management program both before and after liver transplantation. Because of these programs, Mayo Clinic can offer liver transplant to select morbidly obese individuals. Those unable to lose the recommended amount of weight before transplantation may have combined obesity and transplant surgery.

In some instances, weight loss and exercise may be supplemented with weight-loss surgery. Mayo Clinic also offers noninvasive alternatives to gastric bypass and other open weight-loss procedures, which are risky and can leave scarring that interferes with later liver transplantation. These noninvasive procedures — intragastric balloon insertion and endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty — have results comparable to those of gastric bypass surgery, with a fraction of the recovery time and limited risk of scarring.

Photograph of Mayo Clinic liver specialist and patient.

A Mayo Clinic liver specialist answers a patient's questions.

Photograph of a Mayo Clinic liver specialist and patient

A Mayo Clinic liver specialist reviews a magnetic resonance elastogram with a patient.

Aug. 23, 2016
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