Liver is the largest organ of the body, located in the upper abdomen. It has a wide range of functions that helps in digestion and removal of waste products from the body. It is a vital organ with many important functions.
The liver functions to:
- Remove harmful chemicals from the blood
- Fights infection
- Helps to digest food
- Stores nutrients and vitamins
- Stores energy
Liver is affected from many diseases. Liver disease is any condition that causes illness and affects liver function.
Hepatitis: Is inflammation of the liver caused mainly by various viruses. Hepatitis A is caused by hepatitis A virus (HAV), spread primarily through food or water contaminated by stool from an infected person. Hepatitis B caused by hepatitis B virus, and spreads by contact with an infected person’s blood, semen and other body fluids. Hepatitis C caused by hepatitis C virus spreads through contact with the infected person’s blood and also through sex and from mother to baby during childbirth. There is no specific treatment for hepatitis and resolves themselves.
Cirrhosis: It is a chronic liver disease characterized by abnormal structure and function of the liver. Healthy liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue, partially blocking the flow of blood through the liver. Treatment includes avoidance of alcohol, nutritional therapy and other therapies. Cirrhosis when not controlled by treatment, liver transplantation is considered. It is the final option for patients with liver failure. It is a major surgery in which the diseased liver is removed and replaced with a healthy liver from a donor.
Cancer: It is a cancer arising from the liver and results from the abnormal growth of the cells in the liver. It is also known as hepatocellular carcinoma. Early cancers can be treated by surgery or a liver transplantation. The treatment options for liver cancer are:
Partial hepatectomy: Is surgery wherein affected part of the liver is removed along with some of the healthy tissue around it. Total hepatectomy is surgical removal of entire diseased liver and replacing it with the healthy donated liver.
Radiofrequency ablation: Is another method wherein special probes with tiny electrodes are used to kill the cancer cells. High energy radio waves coming from the probe destroy the cancer cells.
Cryosurgery: Is a type of surgery that uses an instrument to freeze and destroy the cancerous cells.
Laser treatment: Is similar to radiofrequency ablation procedure, but uses lasers instead of radio waves to destroy the tumours.
Hemochromatosis: it is an inherited liver disease associated with abnormal accumulation of iron in multiple organs, leading to organ toxicity. The first step in the treatment is to get rid of excess iron from the body.
Phlebotomy: Is withdrawal of blood from the arm veins every one to two weeks. It is done by incising or cutting a vein and just letting the blood flow into a container. This procedure improves the liver function, and prevents the development of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Jaundice: Is not a disease, but rather a symptom of liver diseases. It is yellow discoloration of skin due to high levels of bilirubin in the blood.