Fatty liver is called hepatic steatosis. It simply means an excess buildup of fat in the liver. The liver is very important to a healthy body by both manufacturing necessary proteins and cleansing harmful substances from the body. Excess fat in the liver can interfere with normal liver function.
Excess fat buildup in the liver can be caused by several factors. The most common cause is still probably due to excessive alcohol use and this is called alcohol induced fatty liver. Other common causes are the presence of diabetes, obesity, high lipid/cholesterol levels and side effects of certain medications. This is non-alcohol fatty liver and is referred to as NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). Fatty liver from any cause can lead to liver damage and scar tissue and ultimately cirrhosis of the liver.
At the present time the best treatment for fatty liver from any condition is to improve that condition. That means, in the case of alcohol, limiting or avoiding alcoholic beverages. With the nonalcoholic causes, one should try and maintain proper body weight, control high cholesterol, adequately control blood sugar in the case of diabetes or avoid the medications that cause fatty liver.
For the non-alcoholic causes of fatty liver there are a number of medications that are being developed for treatment but I'm not yet on the market. At Hillmont G.I. we are participating in research studies for some of these medications and we are also providing our patients with the best noninvasive diagnostic techniques for fatty liver, including the newest technology of fibroscan.