Steatorrhoea is an excess of fat in faeces.
The stool may float due to trapped air.
The stool is also pale in colour, may be foul-smelling, and may be associated with droplets of oil seen in the toilet pan after flushing.
This, together with anaemia, are the principal clinical features of malabsorption syndromes such as coeliac disease, chronic pancreatitis and following a gastrectomy.
In coeliac disease the faecal fat excretion is usually between 25 and 30 g per day. The fat excretion occurring in steatorrhoea due to pancreatic insufficiency is typically greater than 35 g per day.
More detailed information on causes of malabsorption are provided in the index entry on malabsorption.
Last reviewed 01/2018