The evaluation of liver abnormalities in inflammatory bowel disease patients

Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2023 Jul 1;39(4):287-293.doi: 10.1097/MOG.0000000000000942. Epub 2023 Apr 27.


Scott McHenry 1


Author information

1Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology Section, Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.


Purpose of review: Develop a clinical presentation-based approach for common liver abnormalities encountered by providers caring for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Develop a treatment pathway for those with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) arising in IBD. Discuss recent studies of prevalence, incidence, risk factors, and prognosis NAFLD in the IBD population.

Recent findings: The work-up for liver abnormalities should be approached systematically in IBD patients, similar to the general population, while still appreciating the differing prevalence of underlying liver diagnoses. Although immune mediated liver diseases occur commonly in patients with IBD, NAFLD is still the most common liver disease in patients with IBD paralleling its expanding prevalence in the general population. IBD is also an independent risk factor for NAFLD, developing in many patients with lower degrees of adiposity. Furthermore, the more severe histologic subtype, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, is both more common and difficult to treat considering the lower effectiveness of weight loss interventions.

Summary: Having a standard approach to the most common liver disease presentations and care pathway for NAFLD will improve the quality of care provided and ease the medical decision making complexity for IBD patients. The early identification of these patients should prevent the development of irreversible complications like cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma.



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