When your doctor sends you to get an ultrasound of your liver, they are checking for red flags to make sure that nothing is wrong with your liver. What kinds of red flags? Well, using an ultrasound, your doctor can look for cysts in your liver that may be causing you abdominal pain. An ultrasound can also evaluate liver diseases such as fatty liver, hepatitis and cirrhosis.
When your doctor is looking for signs of liver disease, they are looking to see if some liver tissue is brighter than others. When some tissue appears darker than normal, it can be a sign of hepatitis. These kinds of darker-colored tissue are known as “echoic.” Likewise, tissue that looks brighter than normal is known as “echogenic.” More echogenic tissue is often a red flag for fatty liver disease.
So, what does an increased parenchymal echogenicity mean?
If your liver ultrasound reported an increased parenchymal echogenicity, it means that the ultrasound showed more light-colored tissue in your liver than normal. The presence of this light-colored tissue can often be a sign of a fatty liver. Fatty liver is a condition that affects roughly 25% of the population, and can often cause no symptoms at first. That’s why it often isn’t detected until it is seen on an ultrasound.
However, if your ultrasound shows an increased parenchymal echogenicity, your doctor may prescribe diet and lifestyle changes to make sure that it doesn’t get worse. These may include:
- Working to lose excess weight — Experts recommend that people who are severely overweight or obese lose between 3% and 5% of their body weight to reduce the fat buildup in the liver. This can also help to improve symptoms such as inflammation, fibrosis and scarring in the liver.
- Eating certain foods — Many plant-based foods and healthy fats can help prevent and treat fatty liver disease. This includes leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and avocados, as well as foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as fish.
- Increasing daily exercise levels — Fatty liver disease is often associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Other conditions that are often associated with fatty liver, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, can also be prevented with increased activity.
- Avoiding added sugars — Sugars such as fructose and sucrose have been linked to the development of fatty liver. These sugars can contribute to fat buildup in the liver over time. Avoiding processed foods containing added sugars can help reduce fat buildup in the liver.
- Avoiding liver irritants — Certain substances can put excess stress on your liver. Some of these substances include alcohol, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, and some vitamins and supplements.
Where can I go for high-quality liver care?
For experienced experts in liver care, look no further than the Digestive Health Institute. Our team of board-certified colorectal, gastrointestinal and liver care experts is ready to help with any of your liver health concerns.
Our well-trained, professional and compassionate staff are focused on providing the highest level of care to all of our patients. At our clinics, every patient receives the highest standard of care and the individualized attention they deserve. We believe that no two patients are alike, so neither should their digestive health care be.
Contact our team today for more information about liver procedures and conditions we can help you with or to schedule an initial appointment.