The Full Spectrum of Hepatic Steatosis in Children

Suchitra K. Hourigan, Michael Torbenson, Eric Tibesar, Ann O. Scheimann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: We aim to identify the spectrum of etiologies of steatosis in pediatric liver biopsies. Methods: Information was collected from 155 children with steatosis on liver biopsy, including anthropometrics, laboratory, and radiologic data. Biopsies were reviewed by a liver pathologist. Results: The 4 major diagnoses associated with hepatic steatosis were nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (37%), metabolic disease (9%), oncologic disease (8%) and viral hepatitis (7%). Patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease were older (P =.0001) and more likely to have a body mass index z score >2 (P <.0001). Patients with a metabolic diagnosis were younger (P =.0002). Radiologic imaging of the liver yielded normal results in 44 of 108 of children (30%); 7 of these had >66% macrovesicular fatty change on biopsy, and 3 had severe fibrosis/cirrhosis. Conclusions: The range of causes of steatosis in pediatric liver biopsies is broad. Not all patients, even with advanced liver disease, had abnormalities with liver imaging, emphasizing the role for liver biopsy in certain cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-642
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Pediatrics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 4 2015


  • children
  • liver steatosis
  • nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • obesity
  • pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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