Which physical findings are characteristic of fatty liver disease?

Updated: Apr 12, 2018
  • Author: Emily Tommolino, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Alcoholic fatty liver may be present in the absence of any abnormalities noted on the physical examination. Hepatomegaly is common in patients who are hospitalized, occurring in over 70% of persons with steatosis proven on biopsy. Portal hypertension is rare in alcoholic steatosis. Extrahepatic effects, such as skeletal muscle wasting, cardiomyopathy, pancreatitis, or peripheral neuropathy, may be present.

Hepatomegaly is also common with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Splenomegaly and stigmata of portal hypertension (eg, ascites, edema, spider angiomas, varices, gynecomastia, and menstrual disorders) may occur in patients with cirrhosis. Patients with drug-induced fatty liver may present with rapid fulminant liver failure.

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