Human Anatomy – Liver
- Human Anatomy – Tonsils
- Human Anatomy – Teeth
- Human Anatomy – Stomach
- Human Anatomy – Tongue
- Human Anatomy – Esophagus
- Human Anatomy – Liver
- Human Anatomy – Gallbladder
- Human Anatomy – Spleen
- Human Anatomy – Pancreas
- Human Anatomy – Appendix
- Human Anatomy – Intestines
- Human Anatomy – Colon
- Human Anatomy – Abdomen
- Human Anatomy – Penis
- Human Anatomy – Bladder
- Human Anatomy – Kidneys
- Human Anatomy – Prostate
- Human Anatomy – Vagina
- Human Anatomy – Heart
- Human Anatomy – Skin
- Human Anatomy – Aorta
- Human Anatomy – Thyroid
- Human Anatomy – Lungs
- Human Anatomy – Brain
- Human Anatomy – Eyes
- Human Anatomy – Ears
- Human Anatomy – Sinuses
- Human Anatomy – Trachea
- Human Anatomy – Blood
- Human Anatomy – Rotator Cuff
- Human Anatomy – Shoulder
- Human Anatomy – Feet
- Human Anatomy – Hair
- Human Anatomy – Achilles Tendon
One of the most vital human organs, the liver is essential for filtering the blood from the digestive system before relaying it to the body. The liver is also designed to metabolize medicines and detoxify chemicals. Furthermore, it forms proteins essential for blood clots, among others.
It is situated on the right side of the abdomen, protected by the ribcage. Brown to red in appearance, the liver is heavy, all 3 pounds of which are divided into the left and right lobes.
Under the liver are other important organs like the pancreas and intestines. The latter receive bile produced in the liver.
Liver conditions and diseases
Hepatitis or liver inflammation is among the world’s most common diseases. It is usually caused by viruses – namely hepatitis A, B, and C – but can also stem from alcoholism, drug addiction, allergies and obesity. A gallstone trapped in the liver’s bile duct also leads to hepatitis as well as cholangitis (bile duct infection).
A wide range of conditions can easily scar the liver. In many cases, the scarring could be so substantial it would already impair liver function. Such condition is called cirrhosis, which is highly likely to cause hepatocellular carcinoma, a very prevalent form of liver cancer. Telltale symptoms of cirrhosis include ascites or belly distension.
Sometimes, cirrhosis is preceded by a condition called primary biliary cirrhosis, wherein the liver’s bile ducts are slowly destroyed.
At worst, the liver would fail to function anymore. Liver failure is a life-threatening upshot of hepatitis, cancer, excessive alcohol, and many other factors.
Some liver conditions are relatively less life-threatening. For one, there’s hemochromatosis, which occurs when the liver accumulates iron in large amounts, leading to a variety of illnesses. A rarer condition, primary sclerosing cholangitis, happens when the liver’s bile ducts become inflamed and scarred.
Treating liver conditions
When the liver has given up functioning altogether, a liver transplant is imperative. But curing cancer in the liver, which ultimately leads to liver failure, can be very complicated. A good liver cancer treatment employs a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.
Paracentesis, or severe ascites due to liver failure, can be relieved by draining fluid from the belly through a needle.
Treatment for hepatitis varies according to the virus at hand. Hepatitis A is self-limiting, requiring little to no treatment. Both hepatitis B and C require antiviral therapy, in contrast.
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Tests for liver conditions
Liver tests nearly always require blood samples, according to healthy lifestyle experts. Generally, the doctor may need a liver function panel – also known as hepatic function panel – which is composed of a series of blood tests.
A liver function panel measures levels of these enzymes in the blood: alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin and albumin. The panel also checks for levels of blood ammonia, which usually rise when something is wrong with the liver. After a liver function panel, the doctor may do a liver biopsy.
To detect problems in blood clotting, the doctor may request for another blood test called Prothrombin Time (PT). This is also done to check if the patient is getting the proper dosage of warfarin, a blood thinner.
Besides blood tests, the doctor may take liver imaging tests such as ultrasound, liver scan, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), and CT scan.
An ultrasound can easily catch cirrhosis, cancer and many other liver problems. Meanwhile, an ERCP can be used to treat liver conditions, other than detect them.
Liver scan is good for diagnosing abscesses and tumors in the liver. A CT scan (computed tomography) can give sophisticated images of the organ.