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Markedly lower follow-up rate after liver biopsy in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases than those with viral hepatitis in Japan

Hidenori Toyoda*, Takashi Kumada, Seiki Kiriyama, Makoto Tanikawa, Yasuhiro Hisanaga, Akira Kanamori and Toshifumi Tada

Author Affiliations

Department of Gastroenterology, Ogaki Municipal Hospital, Ogaki, Japan

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:341  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-341

Published: 9 September 2011



Patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD) are recommended to have periodic follow-up exams because these patients are at increased risk of the presence of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which can lead to cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma. We investigated the follow-up status of NAFLD patients after a liver biopsy examination.


We compared the follow-up rates of NAFLD patients who had received an ultrasonography-guided liver biopsy and patients who had received a liver biopsy for chronic viral hepatitis (hepatitis B or C).


The 1- and 3-year follow-up rates after the liver biopsy were 92.7% and 88.3% for patients with chronic HBV infection, and 93.4% and 88.2% for patients with chronic HCV infection, respectively. In contrast, the follow-up rates for NAFLD patients were 77.6% and 49.9%, respectively, which were significantly lower than those of patients with chronic viral hepatitis (p < 0.0001). Among NAFLD patients, the respective 1- and 3-year follow-up rates were 73.0% and 44.6% for patients with simple steatosis and 80.0% and 52.4% for patients with NASH based on a pathologic diagnosis, without significant difference between these two subgroups (p = 0.5202).


The outpatient-based follow-up rate after a liver biopsy was significantly lower in NAFLD patients compared to patients with chronic viral hepatitis, regardless of the presence of NASH. It is important to determine how to maintain regular hospital visits for NAFLD patients, preventing patient attrition.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; simple steatosis; follow-up; compliance