Expert Fatty Liver Care at Weill Cornell Medicine
The liver is an organ that filters blood and removes toxins. Fatty liver is a condition in which fat deposits develop in the liver. This can cause liver inflammation and scarring, which can lead to cirrhosis and prevent the liver from functioning properly. If fatty liver progresses, patients may need a liver transplant.
The hepatologists (liver specialists) at Weill Cornell Medicine are highly trained in diagnosing and treating fatty liver, including nonalcoholic fatty liver. Our board-certified physicians offer compassionate and effective care, liver transplantation, and access to the latest clinical research.
Fatty Liver Prevention and Screening
Fatty liver risk factors: You are more likely to develop fatty liver disease if you have:
● Fat concentrated around the abdomen
● High blood sugar
● Type 2 diabetes
● High cholesterol
● High levels of triglycerides
● Polycystic ovary syndrome
● Sleep apnea
● Hormonal disorder (such as an underactive thyroid or pituitary gland)
● Current or prior heavy alcohol use
Prevention strategies: The cause of fatty liver is unknown. The best way to prevent fatty liver is to maintain good overall health:
● Maintain a healthy weight
● Limit alcohol intake
● Eat a healthy diet
● Maintain an active lifestyle
● Control diabetes
● Take only the medications prescribed to you
Fatty liver screening: Your primary care physician can screen for fatty liver with a simple blood test to check liver enzyme levels and an ultrasound to look at the liver.
Fatty Liver Symptoms
Often, fatty liver disease does not cause symptoms. When it does, the most common signs include:
● Abdomen or belly pain
● Loss of appetite
● Leg swelling
● Abdomen or belly swelling
● Yellow skin or eyes
How We Diagnose Fatty Liver
Diagnostic tests and imaging: Fatty liver is usually diagnosed through a series of blood tests and imaging. The blood test results rule out other liver disorders, such as hepatitis B or C. To support the fatty liver diagnosis, physicians will also conduct imaging procedures, such as an ultrasound or CT scan of the liver. In some cases, your physician may recommend a liver biopsy (removing a small sample of tissue) to confirm the diagnosis of fatty liver.
Stages: There are no stages of fatty liver, but it is important to determine if the condition has damaged the liver, as well as the extent of damage. After a fatty liver diagnosis, your physician will determine if there is any liver inflammation (steatohepatitis), scarring (fibrosis) or cirrhosis. Physicians may use a specialized ultrasound (Fibroscan) or MRI (MR elastography) to determine the extent of damage to the liver. Occasionally, a liver biopsy is also used to examine for signs of inflammation and scarring.
Steatohepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis can lead to liver failure or cancer, so it is important to receive expert care from a board-certified liver specialist who can provide long-term care.
Treatment Options for Fatty Liver at Weill Cornell Medicine
Treatments: There are no medical treatments for fatty liver. Our hepatologists monitor the disease’s progression and help patients achieve their personal lifestyle goals.
The most effective way to manage fatty liver is to achieve and maintain good overall health:
● Eat a healthy diet
● Exercise regularly
● Lower cholesterol levels
● Avoid alcohol
● Control diabetes
● Lose weight if you are overweight
● Monitor liver health by frequently visiting your hepatologist
● Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B
The Innovative Center for Health and Nutrition in Gastroenterology (ICHANGE) was designed to create a structured approach to patients with obesity and gastrointestinal comorbidities. The clinic is comprised of a group of gastroenterologists, hepatologists, endocrinologists, cardiologists and dieticians that see patients in a central clinic location on the same day. The hepatologists in the clinic specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of fatty liver disease.
Liver transplantation: In cases of extensive liver damage or failure, transplantation is the best treatment. Our highly trained surgeons use proven, minimally invasive procedures.
After transplantation surgery, patients receive comprehensive care from a team of specialists to ensure successful recovery and long-term care.
Comprehensive Care Founded on Cutting-Edge Research
The hepatologists at Weill Cornell Medicine unite their specialized expertise with the breadth of knowledge and support at our top-ranked hospital.
Weill Cornell Medicine patients have access to specialists in surgery, rheumatology, psychiatry, hepatology, oncology, nutrition, genetics and other fields. In addition, our patients benefit from collaborative care with:
Meet Our Doctors
Our board-certified hepatologists provide compassionate care based on the latest fatty liver research and clinical findings. Patients benefit from our physicians’ extensive training, targeted care, and collaboration with other specialists at our top-ranked hospital.