Fatty liver: A contributing factor to gallstones
Fatty liver, also known as hepatic steatosis, is a condition in which excess fat is stored in the liver. Fatty liver is defined as intrahepatic fat (characterized by triglyceride accumulation) of at least 5% of liver weight. The main complication of untreated fatty liver is cirrhosis, which is late-stage scarring (fibrosis) in the liver. Cirrhosis occurs in response to liver inflammation. Since the liver tries to halt inflammation, it produces areas of scarring (fibrosis). With continued inflammation, fibrosis spreads to take up more liver tissue, causing cirrhosis at the end. Moreover, fatty liver strongly increases risks of developing gallstones.
Fatty liver is a contributing factor to gallstones
Fatty liver is an abnormal accumulation of certain fats (triglycerides) inside liver cells. (For more information for “fatty liver”) Fatty liver develops liver inflammation that reduces liver functions and progresses to cirrhosis. Fatty liver might be caused by overweight or obesity, high levels of fats (particularly triglycerides) in the blood and high blood sugar (diabetes).
Gallstones (or cholelithiasis) are responsible for one of the most prevalent biliary disorders. (For more information, please click https://www.bangkokhospital.com/th/disease-treatment/gall-stone) Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid (bile) that can form in the gallbladder. The stones are mainly caused from the precipitation of either calcium salts or cholesterol in bile. The most common type of gallstone is called “cholesterol gallstones”, often appearing in chalk white or greenish-yellow due to undissolved cholesterol as the main component. With similar risk factors, fatty liver is relatively linked to cholesterol gallstones. Fatty liver indicates the excessive amount of fats including cholesterol. When the concentration of hepatic cholesterol increases, bile acids, molecules synthesized from cholesterol in the liver are affected. It causes more precipitation of cholesterol in bile, leading to cholesterol gallstones, the most common type of gallstones.
Fatty liver usually causes no noticeable signs and symptoms, therefore regular check-ups are highly recommended. To reduce the risks of fatty liver and its complications, it is advisable to maintain a healthy weight, consume a healthy diet by eating plant-based diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, avoid drinking alcohols and exercise regularly. If suspected signs and symptoms are indicated, immediate medical assistance must be sought as soon as possible.
Surgeon (subspecialty: Laparoscopic and Endoscopic Surgery), Surgery Center, Bangkok Hospital.
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