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What are Liver Disorders or What is Hepatology?
Hepatology is a branch of medicine concerned with the study, prevention, diagnosis and management of diseases that affect the liver, gallbladder, biliary tree and pancreas. Liver disorders are the domain of a gastroenterologist and should be managed by a trained gastroenterologist.
What are the common ailments that are assessed, diagnosed and managed by a hepatologist include?
What are the Common symptoms of Liver Diseases?
What are the Common symptoms of Liver Diseases?
To accurately diagnose and find the cause of liver disease, your provider will also recommend one or more tests.
These may include:
● Blood tests: Liver enzymes measure levels of liver enzymes in your blood. Other tests of liver function include a blood-clotting test called the international normalized ratio (INR). Abnormal levels may indicate problems with your liver function.
● Imaging tests: Your provider can use ultrasound, MRI or CT scan to look for signs of damage, scarring or tumors in your liver. Another specialized type of ultrasound called FibroScan/Liver Elastography can be used to determine the degree of scarring and fat deposition in the liver.
● Liver biopsy: During a liver biopsy, your provider uses a thin needle to remove a small sample of liver tissue. They analyse the tissue to look for signs of liver disease.
Treatment for liver disease depends on the type of liver disease you have and how far it has progressed. Possible treatments include:
● Medications: Healthcare providers treat some types of liver disease with medication. You may take medicine for viral infections like hepatitis or inherited conditions like Wilson disease.
● Lifestyle changes: You can use your diet to help manage certain types of liver disease. If you have fatty liver disease, avoiding alcohol, limiting fat and calories and increasing fiber intake can help. Alcohol-related liver disease can improve with abstinence from alcohol.
● Liver transplant: When liver disease progresses to liver failure, a liver transplant may be the best treatment option. A transplant replaces your liver with a healthy liver.
You can take steps to prevent some types of liver disease — especially those affected by your diet and lifestyle. If you are at risk for liver disease, your provider may recommend lifestyle changes including:
● Avoiding or limiting alcohol.
● Avoiding foods and drinks that contain trans fats or high-fructose corn syrup.
● Carefully managing your intake of prescription and over-the-counter medications to avoid liver damage, as medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol®) are a common cause of liver injury.
● Getting regular exercise.
● Limiting consumption of red meat.
What is Liver Elastography?
Liver elastography, also known as Shear wave elastography or Liver Fibroscan, is a type of imaging modality that looks for scarring (fibrosis)in the liver. The measurement of elasticity of the liver is done using an ultrasound to measure the stiffness (or elasticity). It is extremely useful in detecting the presence and severity of the liver disease. Fibrosis results in reduction of blood flow to and within the liver. This results in formation of scar tissue. Fibrosis can lead to liver cirrhosis if left undiagnosed and untreated. Sometimes, liver cirrhosis can further result in liver failure and liver cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment can reduce or even reverse the effects of fibrosis.
Elastography testing may be used as a substitute in many cases for a liver biopsy, a more invasive test that involves removing a piece of liver tissue for testing.
How Liver Elastography helps?
Shear wave elastography or FibroScan of liver can detect fibrosis of liver, the Gastroenterologist believe that that diagnosing and treating fibrosis at an early stage can help the liver repair itself and stop liver disease from progressing.
Liver Elastography Procedure:
- The patient is made to lie on an exam table with the right abdominal area exposed.
- A lubrication gel on the skin over the area prior to fibroscan.
- A device known as a transducer, on the area of skin that covers the liver.
- A series of sound waves are emitted which are recorded, measured, and displayed on a monitor.
- The measurement shows the level of stiffness in the liver.
- The approximate time taken for the procedure is about ten minutes.
The elastography takes about 10-15 minutes to perform.
Liver elastography is a painless procedure and involves the use of surface ultrasound probe. that emits a low-frequency pulse.
Patients are asked to wear loose clothing and should be able to lie flat on an exam table for 10 minutes or more while the test is being performed. Patients are asked not to consume any liquids or solids for a minimum of 3 hours before the test to increase the likelihood of obtaining reliable test results. The scan typically takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete, but patients should plan on being here for 30 minutes to allow time for preparation.
After the procedure, you will be immediately discharged from the procedure area and be able to leave without any restrictions. The doctor who completed and interpreted the procedure will send the test results to the doctor who ordered your procedure.
Liver Fibrosis can lead to serious liver problems! But early diagnosis & treatment can prevent fatal consequences.
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