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Fatty Liver

(Hepatic Steatosis)

By Steven K. Herrine, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University

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Fatty liver is excessive accumulation of lipid in hepatocytes, the most common liver response to injury.

Fatty liver develops for many reasons, involves many different biochemical mechanisms, and causes different types of liver damage. Clinically, it is most useful to distinguish fatty liver due to pregnancy or alcoholic liver disease from that occurring in the absence of pregnancy and alcoholism (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease [NAFLD]). NAFLD includes simple fatty infiltration (a benign condition) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a less common but more important variant.