A fatty liver is the result of the accumulation of excess fat in liver cells. Fatty tissue slowly builds up in the liver when a person’s diet exceeds the amount of fat his or her body can handle. A person has a fatty liver when fat makes up at least 5-10% of the liver. Simple fatty liver can be a completely benign condition and usually does not lead to liver damage.
In contrast to ALD, HBV, and HCV, symptoms of severe, acute (rapid onset) liver failure (due to intense hepatitis) are not observed in NAFLD or NASH.
The most common cause of fatty liver disease in Canada is obesity. Whereas several decades ago obesity was not very common, according to current statistics more than 50% of Canadians are overweight. It is estimated that 75% of obese individuals are at risk of developing a simple fatty liver.
Fatty liver disease is usually suspected in patients who have an enlarged liver or abnormal liver tests. An ultrasound of the liver can suggest the presence of a fatty liver. In some cases, your doctor may advise a liver biopsy, a procedure where the physician inserts a needle into the liver and extracts a sample tissue, which is then examined under a microscope.