Opportunistic Screening of Patients for Hepatic #Steatosis: Clinical Follow-Up and Diagnostic Yield

Hepatic steatosis is a common incidental finding on abdominal imaging that is not always reported or recognized as having clinical significance. Because of its association with liver disease, cirrhosis, and diabetes, the aim of this study was to bring attention to this finding and provide clinical guidance to referring clinicians by inserting standardized text into radiology reports of patients with incidentally detected hepatic steatosis.

Patients with incidentally discovered hepatic steatosis on abdominal ultrasound or CT had standard text inserted into the impression sections of their diagnostic imaging reports. A total of 1,256 patients whose reports were tagged between April 2016 and September 2017 were retrospectively identified and their electronic medical records reviewed to determine subsequent acknowledgment in the medical record or clinical action in response to the tagged report. Information regarding patient demographics, the type of provider who ordered the examination, and the acuity of the examination results was also record ed.

Acknowledgment and subsequent clinical action were more likely in patients whose examinations was ordered by primary care providers, whose examination results were not urgent, and who were in the ultrasound group. The overall diagnostic yield in patients who underwent clinical evaluation was nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in 70%, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, in 6%, and alcoholic hepatitis in 17%.

Opportunistic screening for incidental hepatic steatosis on abdominal CT and ultrasound is feasible, with substantial yield for patients with clinically important entities including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis