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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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March 2003

Q. After having an ultrasound on my abdomen, I've been having pain in my upper right side. I was told that it was "probable fatty hepatic infiltration." I can't seem to find out what this is. Can you help me understand?

A. An ultrasound test, also known as a sonogram, is useful for eveluating many medical conditions. It creates a picture of internal structures by using sound waves. It is an easy test to do, causes little discomfort to the patient, and does not involve radiation exposure. Most commonly the sonogram is used to image abdominal and pelvic organs.

The right upper abdomen contains the liver, gallbladder, and kidney, and the sonogram gives good images of these. It is the best test to look for gallstones, for example. Fatty liver refers to fat deposits in the liver cells. This can be a sign of alcoholism, diabetes, obesity and other conditions. Treatment is to identify the underlying cause and correct it.



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