top of page
  • Writer's pictureProf. Dr. Deniz Balcı

Dangers of Liver Fat Accumulation

Having some fat in the liver is normal and does not cause any symptoms. However, fatty liver disease is characterized by excessive fat accumulation in liver cells.

This condition can be of two types: alcoholic or non-alcoholic. In both cases, if excessive fat deposition in the liver leads to an inflammatory reaction in these patients, it is called steatohepatitis. The development of steatohepatitis in the liver leads to fibrosis, just as healed scar tissue is seen in inflammatory reactions in the liver. The structure of the liver is altered and hardened, and this condition can progress to cirrhosis. A significant complication expected in patients with cirrhosis is an increased risk of developing liver cancer. Medical research has shown a relationship between insulin resistance and fatty liver disease. Here, even if the body secretes sufficient insulin, the organs cannot use it, leading to glucose (blood sugar) accumulation and the conversion of excess glucose into fat for storage.

How is Fatty Liver Disease Detected...

Most patients with fatty liver do not have significant symptoms. Symptoms in patients begin if inflammation due to excessive fat accumulation in the liver leads to a condition called steatohepatitis. Initial symptoms generally include weakness, fatigue, fullness, and pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, and the inflammatory disease progresses insidiously. Advanced liver cirrhosis may develop in these patients later on. Conditions that can be seen in patients with liver cirrhosis include jaundice (yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin), abdominal fluid accumulation (ascites), swelling in the hands and feet, easy fatigue, bruising, and later on; confusion, drowsiness, and liver coma.

When to See a Doctor...

Patients with symptoms such as excessive weakness, fatigue, jaundice, abdominal swelling, and very easy bruising should see a doctor for further evaluation. These symptoms do not necessarily indicate fatty liver or cirrhosis. Further tests are conducted to distinguish these conditions from other diseases.

Which Tests are Used in Diagnosing Fatty Liver...

When fatty liver disease is considered in the expert doctor evaluation, your doctor will try to find out the causes and risk factors. The main ones here are questioned alcohol use, medications, diseases you have had (especially viral hepatitis A, B, C), diabetes, and other relevant conditions. Physical examination evaluates liver enlargement, jaundice, muscle wasting, thinning of hair, spider veins on the skin, and spleen enlargement. Advanced tests and examinations such as blood tests, a series of detailed tests are required for fatty liver and its differential diagnosis. The main ones among these are liver function tests, transaminases (AST, ALT), bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase, and GGT, blood sugar, and blood lipids, glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels are examined. As for radiological tests, ultrasound is an important initial test in the evaluation of liver fat accumulation. It has the advantage of being inexpensive and easily accessible, but its evaluation requires experience. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging tests are advanced tests that allow detailed examination of liver structure."


bottom of page