Having so many complex and vital functions, when the liver stops working properly patients can become seriously ill. That is why early detection is so important. The most common causes of liver disease are alcohol use, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (associated with rising body weight), and viral infections such as hepatitis B or C. There are many rarer diseases, some with a genetic or inherited causes, such as iron overload or changes in the immune system.
If you have symptoms that could be related the liver, or if abnormal liver blood tests have been found by your GP or during a routine health check, an in-depth assessment of the liver is advisable. At London Digestion we will ask questions about alcohol use, weight changes, any risk factors for viral infections and whether anyone in the family has been affected. In most cases a series of blood tests will be taken, an ultrasound or MRI scan, and a Fibroscan™. Fibroscan™ is a painless and non-invasive way of estimating the amount of long term liver damage (scarring). Sometimes it is necessary to request a liver biopsy, in order to examine the structure of the liver in more detail.
Treatment depends on the findings, but often the emphasis is on lifestyle changes. It is sometimes easier to make those changes knowing the results of a comprehensive liver assessment.