Hepatology is a branch of medicine focused on the diseases that affect the liver and related diseases.
A hepatologist is a physician who is involved in diagnosing as well as treatment for hepatic disorders and concerns that impact your:
- The biliary tract
Here’s what you should be aware of if you’re thinking of going to a hepatologist to diagnose or manage a medical issue and want to be referred to this kind of doctor.
What is Hepatology?
Hepatology differs from other types of medicine due to the focus on organs that are affected by the hepatic disease. The hepatic system comprises these organs.
The primary focus of Hepatology is the liver.
This vital organ is responsible for helping process the food you consume, boost the body’s metabolism, and eliminate toxic substances.
The liver can also store and process fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin D3 and vitamin E.
The pancreas is the organ responsible for producing insulin and generating digestion enzymes in the stomach.
Acute or chronic pancreatitis may occur when digestive enzymes damage the pancreas and cause severe inflammation.
This may also occur if the digestive enzymes created by the pancreas and liver cannot be released because of the blockage caused by stones.
The gallbladder is a small organ located in the upper right portion of your stomach.
The gallbladder, or gallbladder, is a small pouch that stores the bile released in the liver. However it expands and releases its contents into the intestines to aid digestion if you eat food.
Gallstones can develop when a bile imbalance can block the bile flow.
Also known as the biliary artery or the biliary system, the track is the connection or tract between the gallbladder, the liver, and pancreas.
The biliary tract permits pancreatic enzymes and bile to pass through the small intestine, assisting indigestion, including fat digestion.
What’s a Hepatologist?
Hepatologists are specialists in hepatic disorders and the organs they influence. They aim to identify and treat hepatic ailments like hepatitis, fatty liver disease, pancreatitis, pancreatitis, etc.
Although hepatology doesn’t count as a board-certified specialty as per the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), it is generally regarded as a subspecialty within gastroenterology. It’s been thought of as a separate field from gastroenterology over the past couple of years.
Therefore, doctors who have been specially trained in hepatology are certified in gastroenterology and internal medicine.
What diseases do Hepatologists treat?
Hepatologists treat mainly liver-related diseases, which include:
- Hepatitis infections
- The condition of the liver is fatty, and it’s non-alcoholic and alcohol-related.
- metabolic liver disorders
- Cancer of the liver
A hepatologist could also help with other conditions that affect the hepatic system, for example:
- the pancreas is a cancer of the pancreas.
- Gallbladder Cancer
- gallbladder inflammation (cholecystitis)
- bile duct stones (choledocholithiasis)
- bile duct adenomas (noncancerous tumors)
- duct cancer
Hepatologists aren’t the only ones to identify cancer, but they’ll likely recommend an appointment with an oncologist to pursue further treatments for cancer.
What kind of procedures does Hepatologists do?
Hepatologists can perform various procedures to help identify or treat diseases that affect your liver.
Hepatologists perform procedures
- blood tests to find indications of infection like gallstones, pancreatitis, as well as inflammation of the liver organs
- Imaging tests like ultrasounds for identifying gallstones and cysts, and tumors
- Cholecintigraphy scans that make use of tiny amounts of radioactive material assist in taking images of the biliary tract.
- Endoscopies are carried out using long tubes equipped with cameras that aid in providing images of your liver system for a better view of the gallbladder and bile ducts.
- Hepatobiliary Iminodiacetic Acid (HIDA) scans to track the production of bile.
- biopsies of tumors, cysts, or other growths that are suspicious on your liver organs
When should I visit a Hepatologist?
It’s crucial to consult your doctor immediately if you show any of the following symptoms that may indicate a hepatitis-related illness:
- persistent abdominal pain
- abdominal swelling
- chronic fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- unintentional weight loss
- deep dark our red bloody urine
- bloody, pale, or dark stools
- chronic diarrhea
- The skin’s complexion becomes yellow (eyes) (jaundice)
- Increased heart rate means increased heart rate.
- Low-grade fever and without chills
- swelling of ankle or leg
Typically, you’ll require the approval of your primary physician for a visit to the Hepatologist. However A physical examination and blood tests can trigger the referral to the Hepatologist.
The doctor could suggest you see a specialist based on one or more of your symptoms along with your medical history and personal risk factors for hepatic disorders.
You might need to consult a Hepatologist if you have family or personal experience of liver-related conditions You could be at an increased risk of pancreatitis if your family has had gallstones in the past.
Your doctor might recommend regular screenings for you if you’re older than 50 years old or if:
- A history of drinking disorders
- observed recent weight loss
- the personal or family or family history of any hepatitis
- High cholesterol
- High Triglycerides
- Crohn’s Disease
- metabolic disorder
What are hepatology and gastroenterology related?
- Hepatology affects parts of the digestive system (GI).
- Similar to the liver, it is also a GI tract. The Digestive tract comprises the pancreas, the liver, and gallbladder. It also includes:
- Digestion involves other body parts.
- The liver is often considered a part of gastroenterology, as these fields cover similar organs. A gastroenterologist can diagnose and treat the same conditions; however, the focus of a Hepatologist is more specific.
- Based on your present symptoms and general health history, your primary physician will determine if you’ll benefit from an all-gastroenterologist or a liver specialist.
- It is also possible to consult an internal medicine physician who is an expert in these ailments.
What is the next step I need to take before seeing a liver specialist?
- If you think you’ll need to speak to a Hepatologist, consult your primary physician to request an appointment.
- In this period, it’s helpful to record your symptoms to provide your doctor and other specialists with a better understanding of the condition you are suffering from.
- After receiving treatment from a hepatologist, specialists will collaborate in conjunction with the primary physician to manage the disease.
The main takeaway
- If you suspect that you are suffering from any signs or risk factors for a hepatic disorder, consult your primary care physician for an appointment with a Hepatologist.
- Hepatic diseases are also growing in frequency, which means that hepatology is an increasingly important specialty for those suffering from hepatic issues.
- The earlier you seek diagnosis and treatment, the better your results are likely to be.