Hyperechoic Abdominal Fat: A Sentinel Sign of Inflammation

Ultrasound Q. 2019 Jun;35(2):186-194. doi: 10.1097/RUQ.0000000000000387.


One of the most useful sonographic signs of acute abdominal inflammation is the identification of increased echogenicity of the surrounding fat. Hyperechoic fat results from vasodilation and edema extending from an adjacent source of infection or inflammation. These changes are mediated by such factors such as bradykinin, histamine, and various cytokines. The recognition of hyperechoic fat on sonography may be an important indicator of the primary source of pathology. In addition, it often reflects a more advanced degree of transmural pathology, such as "walled-off" perforation of a hollow viscus. This pictorial essay will present a variety of examples of hyperechoic inflamed fat involving different abdominal organs and will illustrate the diagnostic value of this finding.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / diagnostic imaging
  • Abdomen / pathology
  • Abdominal Fat / diagnostic imaging*
  • Abdominal Fat / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / diagnostic imaging*
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Ultrasonography / methods*