There is no simple test for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Lab tests showing elevated liver enzymes may lead to a diagnosis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. However, a person with NAFLD may have normal liver enzymes.
The health care provider will make a diagnosis based on medical history, symptoms, a physical exam and blood tests. The clinical signs and reported symptoms tend to be more evident when NAFLD has progressed to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). An ultrasound or other imaging studies may be performed. In some cases, the provider may order a test to measure the level of fibrosis in the liver, such as a liver biopsy or one of the newer noninvasive tests.
Sometimes iron levels in the blood may be elevated in people with NAFLD or NASH. Although this can indicate a problem with iron storage, this isn’t necessarily the case. The provider will rule out all other liver diseases before confirming a diagnosis of NAFLD or NASH.
Last Reviewed: January 30, 2019