Severe Protein-Calorie Malnutrition-Associated Hepatic Steatosis in a Woman Who Had Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass for Morbid Obesity Thirteen Years Ago

Guriel N. Kim, Sam Ho, David Saulino, Xiuli Liu


Hepatic steatosis is common in everyday liver pathology practice. There are many etiologies leading to hepatic steatosis. These etiologies include metabolic syndrome, alcohol, medications, monogenetic disease, infectious diseases, and malnutrition. Correct diagnosis of underlying etiology through clinicopathological correlation is key to adequate treatment and optimal outcome for the patient. In this case report, we describe severe protein-calorie malnutrition as an etiology for hepatic steatosis in a middle-aged woman who presented with lethargy, low body mass index (15.8 kg/m2), abdominal distention and bilateral lower extremity edema, hyperammonemia, and hypoalbuminemia, 13 years after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass for morbid obesity. Laboratory tests revealed hyperammonemia, hypoalbuminemia, and low ceruloplasmin levels. Hemodynamic measurement demonstrated high hepatic venous pressure gradient of 12 mm Hg. Transjugular liver biopsy showed moderate macrovesicular steatosis, mild siderosis, and abundant lipofuscin but no evidence of fibrosis, cirrhosis, or steatohepatitis. This patient was treated with lactulose and enteral feeding, however, the patient died of progressive liver failure 3 weeks after admission. We also review relevant literature to help diagnose protein-calorie malnutrition (kwashiorkor) and hepatic steatosis as a possible late complication of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. In patients with hepatic steatosis, encephalopathy, hyperammonemia and portal hypertension, malnutrition should be considered as an etiology and diagnosed with a synthesis of clinical, pathological, and laboratory information. Kwashiorkor is a severe disease and should be treated promptly as it may be fatal as in our case.

Gastroenterol Res. 2021;14(2):129-137


Liver; Steatosis; Protein-calorie malnutrition; Hyperammonemia; Hypoalbuminemia; Roux-en-Y gastric bypass; Morbid obesity; Ceruloplasmin; Kwashiorkor

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