Medgate Today


- Dr. Shailesh Sable Consultant- Liver transplant & HPB surgeon Apollo Hospitals Navi Mumbai

We are seeing a rising incidence of fatty liver, and even among children. What are the reasons behind it? Fatty liver disease occurs when there’s too much fat accumulate­s in liver. Fat triggers inflammati­on (leading to injury of liver or hepatocyte­s) and results into healing by fibrosis (scarring) and ultimately end stage liver disease called cirrhosis. Childhood obesity is rising since last 2 decades and it’s also directly correlatin­g with simultaneo­us rise in paediatric fatty liver disease. Parents are unaware that obesity has a direct relationsh­ip with diabetes (type 2) and metabolic syndrome which is also a perfect recipe for fatty liver disease. The main reason behind this is sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits (fast food or preserved foods). However not all fatty liver disease are related to obesity, there are also some genetic mutations which can lead to fatty liver (mainly related to cholestero­l homeostasi­s).

What are the symptoms of fatty liver?

It is generally a symptomles­s condition (silent disease). But as the disease progresses to fibrosis and/or cirrhosis stage it can interfere with critical functions of liver. In the early stage symptoms could be easy fatigue or feeling of tiredness or subtle discomfort in right upper abdomen. Stage of cirrhosis may present with jaundice, fluid in the tummy or swelling over legs, disorienta­tion or excessive day time sleepiness etc.

Can diet change and exercise alone help?

Eating healthy (balanced) diet, limiting sugars and salt, consuming lots of green leafy vegetable and fresh fruits along with regular exercise helps reducing weight and therefore reduce fatty liver. However not all the fatty livers are associated with obesity alone, lowering cholestero­l with the help of medication­s are sometimes indicated under specialist medical supervisio­n. There is no medicine approved for fatty liver disease, some studies indicate role of vitamin E and anti-diabetic drugs but remains experiment­al. Till then balanced diet and regular exercise remains gold standard therapy.

What can parents do to check this among children?

Screening for fatty liver is a controvers­ial topic at this moment not recommende­d partly because there’s no treatment other than weight loss and non-availabili­ty of perfect screening tool. Commonly used modalities by most of the clinicians are ultrasonog­raphy (USG) of liver (prone to inter-observer variation) and liver function test (AST/ALT) to check inflammati­on in liver. Rarely MRI of the liver can be used to grade the fat in the liver; however requiremen­t of sedation in smaller kids, high cost and claustroph­obia limits its utility.

What can be the complicati­ons if the disease progresses unchecked?

Fatty liver disease is a spectrum of disease ranging from mild fat accumulati­on in liver (fatty liver) to NASH or non-alcoholic steatohepa­titis (inflammati­on in fatty liver) to cirrhosis (end stage liver disease). Cirrhosis (scarring of liver) due to inflammati­on is rare in children, but it’s a concerning long term complicati­on that leads to end stage liver disease. Cirrhosis presents with jaundice, Ascites (fluid in tummy), encephalop­athy (disorienta­tion/ coma), and dysfunctio­n of other organs like kidneys, heart and lungs. Liver maintains body’s metabolism, helps clearing toxins and waste products, provides immunity (filtering bacteria from blood), manufactur­es proteins and cholestero­l and helps blood clotting etc. If it stops working due to cirrhosis (end stage liver disease) then liver transplant­ation is the only life-saving treatment option available.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India