Hepatology is that branch of medicine that deals with the study, prevention, diagnosis and management of diseases of liver, gall bladder, biliary tract and pancreas. It is generally considered as a sub specialty of gastroenterology and diseases related to viral hepatitis and alcohol are the main reasons for the disorders of the related body parts.
There are different reasons to seek a specialist. Some of them are –
1. Drug overdose like paracetamol is common.
2. Liver damage such as gastrointestinal bleeding.
3. Abnormal blood test.
4. Pancreatitis which is caused due to alcohol or gallstone.
5. Systemic diseases like haemochromatosis.
6. Viral hepatitis infections such as hepatitis a, b, c and e. More than 80 percent of liver cancer cases are caused due to hepatitis b and c.
7. Jaundice virus positivity in blood.
8. Liver transplantation.
9. Enzyme defects which makes liver bigger in size in children.
10. Swelling of abdomen due to fluid accumulation.
Some of the procedures that are given to treat the above mentioned conditions are –
1. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) – It is a technique to diagnose and treat problems of the biliary or pancreatic ductal systems. In this procedure, endoscopy and fluoroscopy is used to see the inside of the stomach and duodenum. A contrast medium is injected into the ducts in the biliary tract and pancreas so they can be seen on radiographs. It is used to treat conditions such as gallstones, inflammatory structures, leaks from trauma and surgery, cancer etc.
2. Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC) – It is a radiologic technique which is done to visualize the anatomy of the biliary duct. It is used to perform biliary drainage until a more permanent solution for the obstruction is found. In this procedure, a contrast medium is injected into a bile duct in the liver and then X-rays are taken.
3. Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) – It is a non invasive procedure in which medical imaging is done that uses magnetic resonance imaging to visualize the biliary and pancreatic ducts. It is an effective procedure to determine if gallstones are dodged in any of the ducts or not. It makes use of heavily T2-weighted MRI pulse sequences.
Intravenous sedation will be provided to you before the procedure. Many patients won’t have any recollection of the procedure because of the amnesia effect of the sedatives.
Most exams related to hepatology are completed in 20 to 30 minutes. It takes around 2 hours in total including preparation and recovery time.
Procedures like colonoscopy and upper endoscopy are painless. But there can be temporary abdominal distension and cramps in some cases.
One critical step is to thoroughly clean out the colon. This is often done with the help of a liquid operation designed to stimulate bowel movements.