Steatorrhea (patient information)

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What are the symptoms?

What are the causes?

Who is at highest risk?


When to seek urgent medical care?

Treatment options

Where to find medical care for Steatorrhea?


What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Possible complications

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Vindhya BellamKonda, M.B.B.S [2]


Steatorrhea is excretion of abnormal quantities of fat with the feces owing to reduced absorption of fat by the intestine.

What are the Symptoms of Steatorrhea?

Mild steatorrhea:

Severe(or) chronic diarrhea

What Causes Steatorrhea?

Who is at Highest Risk?


Quantitative analysis of fat in the stool may be helpful in the diagnosis of steatorrhea. The various tests that may be helpful in the diagnosis are acid steatocrit, near-infrared reflectance analysis (NIRA) and sudan III stain.

When to Seek Urgent Medical Care?

Treatment Options

Management of steatorrhea include treatment of underlying etiology, control of diarrhea and correction of nutritional deficiencies.

  • Correcting nutritional deficiencies by supplementing with the following:
  • Pancreatic enzyme supplementation
  • Surgical treatment
    • Surgical intervention is usually not recommended for the management of steatorrhea. Surgery is usually reserved for patients with refractory or pre-malignant complications, such as Enteropathy Associated T-cell Lymphoma (EATL) and ulcerative jejunitis (UJ). EATL patients presenting with ulcerative lesions, stenotic lesions, and perforation needs surgical intervention. Surgery also serves as a pre-therapy in order to prevent perforation of the small bowel during chemotherapy in case of EATL. After surgery patients receive immunotherapy, chemotherapy and/or stem cell transplantation.

Where to find Medical Care for Steatorrhea?

Medical care for steatorrhea can be found here.


Effective measures for the primary prevention of steatorrhea include smoking cessation, alcohol cessation, minimizing the use of certain medications, such as antibiotics, that can alter normal bowel flora, and consuming diet rich in dietary fiber

What to Expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Prognosis generaly is good once the cause are treated and if replacement therapy is started . Most of the time it depend on the the cause of loosing fat in stool.

Possible Complications

The complications of steatorrhea are the following:



Intestinal obstruction

Weight loss.


 Failure to thrive


Weight loss