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Conditions We Treat: Fatty Liver Disease and NASH

Excessive fat deposits in the liver in the absence of excessive alcohol use is known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This is the most common form of liver disease in America.

In most patients with NAFLD, there is fat in the liver without significant liver damage. This is called non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL). In some patients with NAFLD, there is excess fat in the liver along with inflammation and damage to the liver’s cells, and is called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH.

Fatty Liver Disease and NASH Treatment: Why Choose Johns Hopkins

  • The fatty liver disease and NASH specialists at Johns Hopkins collaborate with experts in gastroenterology, internal medicine, obesity medicine, nutrition and other disciplines.
  • In addressing fatty liver disease, our team works with you to support a healthy lifestyle, with resources such as the Healthful Eating, Activity and Weight Program at Johns Hopkins Health Care & Surgery Center — Green Spring Station.
  • Our team includes principal investigators who lead cutting edge clinical trials investigating novel medicines for the treatment of NASH.
  • For those with cirrhosis or liver failure, the Liver Transplant Program at Johns Hopkins’ Comprehensive Transplant Center is a world leader in liver transplants, with physicians, surgeons and caregivers who support you before, during and after your procedure.

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Fatty Liver Disease and NASH Treatment at Johns Hopkins: What to Expect

Before Your Appointment

If your doctor suspects you have fatty liver disease or has made a diagnosis, you will need to forward your medical records before you can be scheduled for an appointment at Johns Hopkins. Please fax all your records (imaging studies, test results, doctor’s notes, etc.) to 410-500-4257.

Examination and Testing

The test that most clearly shows fatty liver disease is a liver biopsy, which involves removing a small piece of liver tissue with a needle inserted through the skin. The doctor will look at this sample and determine if there is liver cell damage and fibrosis in addition to the presence of fat. In some cases, a less invasive alternative to liver biopsy may be available.

If the test shows you have fatty liver disease that has not progressed into NASH, you can adopt lifestyle changes to control or reverse the fat deposits in your liver. Weight loss is key, as is lowering your cholesterol, controlling diabetes and avoiding alcohol, which puts strain on the liver.

Treatment for Fatty Liver Disease and NASH

If you have NASH, your doctor will recommend these same lifestyle changes as in fatty liver disease, and might prescribe medications to treat your diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. You may need to avoid certain over-the-counter drugs.