NASH is a kind of fatty-liver disease that is not connected to alcohol consumption. It is believed that NASH is caused both by diet and genetic factors.
Previously, the only way to evaluate the level of fat content in a person’s liver was through an invasive (read: painful) needle biopsy.
But that’s no longer the case.
Researchers at U.C. San Diego’s School of Medicine have determined that a form of MRI, called MRI-PDFF (magnetic resonance imaging-estimated proton-density-fat-fraction), can accurately measure the amount of fat in a person’s liver.
This is potentially big news both for the detection and treatment of NASH.
The condition is typically asymptomatic until the very late stages, when cirrhosis and potentially liver cancer can set in. Now, however, doctors have an easier way of checking for NASH without the use of a painful procedure.
MRI-PDFF requires people to spend five minutes in a magnetic resonance imaging machine, with one 20-second period when they have to hold their breath.
It’s estimated that NASH affects 20% of the non-obese population, and it could affect as much as 60% of the obese population.
Currently, there are no treatments for NASH other than diet and exercise. Several companies, however, are in a race to develop treatment options.