Liver Conditions - Overview
They are many different conditions that can affect the proper functioning of the liver. These are collectively known as hepatic diseases.
Most liver diseases initially present with very few symptoms. The liver is a resilient organ, able to function even when damaged and also to regenerate itself. This may explain why it’s believed that a great deal of liver disease remains undiagnosed in the population as a whole.
However, if liver disease is left untreated it can be fatal. Incidence of liver disease is growing and it is now estimated that it affects some two million people in the UK alone, where it is the fifth largest cause of death. It is therefore important to look after the liver and to seek advice from a doctor if you are concerned about your health.
Untreated liver disease tends to develop over time and generally progresses from initial inflammation (alcoholic hepatitis), to scarring, to irreparable liver damage (cirrhosis) and further complications which may then lead to liver failure or cancerous liver tumours.
Because of the way liver disease presents, with few early signs or symptoms, it may not be diagnosed until it is too late to repair successfully (ie, until liver cirrhosis is diagnosed) and when treatment options may be limited to saving just that part of the liver that is still functioning (resection), or by having a liver transplant.
Typical symptoms of liver disease include:
- Nausea, sometimes with vomiting
- Pain high up on the right side of the abdomen
- Tiredness, weakness and weight loss
However, with a wide variety of liver disorders come a wide variety of symptoms.
Here we offer some insights into the liver disorders that consultants at The Princess Grace Hospital regularly test, diagnose and treat.
Most people will be aware of the damage that can be caused to the liver by alcohol abuse. However, this is only one of many causes that our consultants diagnose and treat. Others include:
- Viral or infective hepatitis A, B, C, D or E
- Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH)
- Genetic conditions
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Obstructive jaundice (cholestatic liver disease)
- Liver abscesses and cysts
- Liver tumours/cancer) including metastatic (secondary) liver tumours and Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)
Initial diagnosis of liver disease is usually by way of a series of blood tests and/or urine samples which may be supported by the use of imaging/scanning technology (such as a fibroscan) or a biopsy where a small sample of the liver is removed for analysis. Sometimes liver disease is discovered almost by accident during an investigation of other conditions.
To arrange a consultation with a liver consultant please contact The Princess Grace Hospital, Liver, Bile Duct and Pancreas Unit