Hepatic steatosis

Hepatic steatosis also known as Fatty Liver

Hepatic steatosis is an accumulation of fat in the liver. Also called “fatty liver” steatosis caught the attention of doctors in the late 1980s when it coincided with an epidemic of obesity in the United States.

Our liver usually has a small amount of fat, however, when it exceeds 10 % of liver weight, we are looking at a picture of steatosis.

Steatosis at its beginning, when it is called mild hepatic steatosis, usually causes no symptoms or complications. The longer and greater the fat accumulation the bigger the risks for liver damage.

This liver fat, in excess and for a long period, can result in damage to the liver cells, becoming inflamed.

When the liver reaches this stage it is called steatohepatitis or fatty hepatitis. In this case, if left untreated it can progress to cirrhosis.

Hepatic steatosis is a stage prior to the development of steatohepatitis.

The causes of these two types of steatosis are the consumption of alcoholic beverages and being overweight or obese. Over 70 % of patients with steatosis are obese. The more overweight the patient is, the higher the risk.

Other risk factors for the development of fatty liver are type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and high cholesterol.
Steatosis is more common in women, and may also appear in thin people with low alcohol intake in smaller proportions.
Both hepatic steatosis and steatohepatitis and cause no symptoms (they are asymptomatic) in early stages and are usually discovered incidentally in ultrasound or CT scans.