Fatty liver (steatosis) is the accumulation of fat in hepatocytes (liver cells). It is often an asymptomatic condition, which does not damage the liver. The patient may have an enlarged liver or minor elevation of liver enzyme tests. In fact, fatty liver is one of the most common causes of isolated minor elevation of liver enzymes found in routine blood tests. An ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI can detect a fatty liver, but the diagnosis can be conformed only by a liver biopsy. It is commonly seen in individuals who are diabetic or obese.
Accumulation of fat can occur due to several mechanisms - transfer of fat from other parts of the body or an increase in the extraction of fat presented to the liver from the intestine or reduced breakdown and removal of fat by the liver. Eating fatty foods does not by itself produce a fatty liver.
There are many clinical states that may lead to it and these include extreme weight gain, poor diet, diabetes, tuberculosis, and use of certain drugs like steroids. Alcohol abuse is a well-known cause for this as is toxicity of certain chemicals.
In diagnosing fatty liver, it is important to exclude other causes of chronic liver disease, especially alcohol abuse. The treatment depends on the underlying cause. It is important to remember that simple fatty liver may not require treatment and simple measures like weight loss, dietary fat restriction, and exercise will help. Ursodeoxycholic acid may improve liver function test results, but its effect on improving the underlying liver abnormality is unclear.
You need to discuss with your doctor prior to starting therapy.
For signs and symptoms of Cirrhosis, click on the 2nd link.