In people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), fat gets deposited inside the liver and can cause inflammation (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH). Left untreated, NAFLD can get worse and lead to cirrhosis (extensive scarring) that becomes so severe that a liver transplant is the only cure. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is a leader in the study of NAFLD and the care of people with this disease, offering the latest therapies, comprehensive care, liver transplantation, and opportunities to participate in clinical trials.
A Specialized Liver Care Team
Your care team includes hepatologists (liver specialists), gastroenterologists, surgeons, nurses, physician assistants, endocrinologists, registered dietitians, and others with experience caring for people with fatty liver and other liver diseases. You can receive all the care you need at one medical center.
Surveillance to Detect Liver Cancer Early
The most common causes of primary liver cancer are chronic infection with the hepatitis B and C viruses, excessive alcohol consumption, and fatty liver disease. NewYork-Presbyterian has a strong surveillance program for people at risk for liver cancer, with the hope of detecting the disease in its early, more curable stages.
Treatment of Fatty Liver Disease
The first approach to reversing NAFLD and improving the health of your liver is a change in lifestyle to one that includes more exercise combined with dietary changes to lose weight. Our registered dietitians and other members of your care team can help you learn how to implement these changes. You may also take vitamin E, or medications to treat diabetes, high cholesterol/triglycerides, and high blood pressure. There is no medication specifically used to treat NAFLD, but promising drugs are under study in clinical trials. If interested, you can participate in one of these trials, supervised by your doctor.
Liver Transplantation for Fatty Liver Disease
If you have a fatty liver disease that causes cirrhosis so severe that it significantly impairs liver function and becomes life-threatening, you may need a liver transplant. At NewYork-Presbyterian, you are ten times more likely to receive a liver transplant than at other hospitals in the region, with an average wait time of just nine months. Our surgeons have performed more than 2,000 liver transplants, with outcomes that meet or surpass national averages. They use a variety of liver transplant approaches, including living donor liver transplantation, to extend the limits of organ transplantation and provide the greatest number of transplants possible.
Clinical Trials for Fatty Liver Disease
Our fatty liver disease specialists are leaders in research. We have launched studies evaluating promising new treatments and exploring the development, progression, and genetics of fatty liver disease. You may have the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial of a potentially more effective treatment. Examples of research areas include:
- Medications to treat NAFLD. Our investigators are evaluating promising drugs such as obeticholic acid, elafibranor and selonsertib to treat NASH. Earlier studies of these medications, many led by NewYork-Presbyterian’s researchers, showed that these drugs might not only make it possible to stop the progression of the disease but reverse scarring in the liver.
- Improving NAFLD diagnosis. Our doctors are also analyzing tissue from liver biopsies to identify "biomarkers" of NAFLD that may lead to the development of new diagnostic tests and eventually spare future patients from needing a biopsy to make a diagnosis.
- Precision medicine for NAFLD. Our investigators work with genomic medicine researchers to design new fatty liver disease therapies based on the biology of each person’s disease.
- Discovering new targets for medications. Our basic science researchers have also identified one protein that prevents fatty liver disease and another that promotes the development of cirrhosis in people with NASH. These laboratory findings are being investigated further and may help to discover possible targets for more effective therapies.
A Special Fatty Liver Clinic for Children
A special clinic at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital is available just for children and adolescents with fatty liver disease—the only one of its kind in the tri-state area. The clinic features one of the most experienced teams of world-renowned liver specialists committed to improving the futures of young people with this disease. The team sees patients one day a week. The Clinic may be contacted by calling 212-305-NASH (6274) or emailing [email protected] Learn more.