Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Liver Hates Me

What is the liver?
The liver is the largest organ in the body, and is critical to sustaining human life. The liver is about the size of a football and is found behind the lower ribs on the right side of the abdomen.
The liver converts food into chemicals necessary to sustain life, and is responsible for the manufacture and export of important substances used by the rest of the body. It also processes drugs absorbed in the digestive tract into substances more easily used by the body, and detoxifies and excretes substances that would be poisonous. The liver makes the bile that is used for digestion, which is later stored by the gallbladder.
Liver diseases
There are many types of liver diseases, but among the most important are:
  • Viral Hepatitis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Liver disorders in children
  • Gallstones
  • Alcohol related liver disorders
  • Liver Cancer
Symptoms and signs of liver disease
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes - jaundice
  • Darkened urine
  • Stools that are light colored - even gray or yellow
  • Stools that are black or bloody
  • Vomiting blood
  • Swelling of the abdomen, and at times other tissues as well
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Confusion which can become coma
  • Fatigue, loss of strength
  • Loss of sexual drive
Contact your physician immediately if you have these symptoms.
DiagnosisSpecific liver function blood tests are helpful in diagnosing liver conditions Additionally, CT studies can aid in determining liver function and define tumors/cysts
What if I need surgery?
While, Dr. McKernan has successfully resected the left lobe of the liver and will consider these on a case-by-case basis. He is still in consideration of the laparoscopic liver resection in other areas. He is willing to review your case, and make recommendations to you for surgeons around the country who are leaders in more extensive liver surgery.

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