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The Liver (Human Anatomy): Liver Function, Conditions, Tests, And Treatments

Imagine your liver as a huge, meaty body part that is tucked inside the right part of your abdomen. It weighs no more than 3 pounds, it has a rubber-like texture and a brownish-red color. It is protected by the rib cage that covers it completely, and makes us unable to touch the liver.

Your liver is divided into two big parts, and these are known as the left and right lobes. Tucked right below your liver is your gallbladder, and some parts of your intestines and pancreas. Your liver, along with these vital organs, works to help your body absorb the nutrients from your food, along with digesting and processing it healthily.

The prime responsibility delegated to the liver is filtering the blood excreted from your digestive tracts, before it flows through your entire body. The liver is also responsible for metabolizing all the drugs that you intake, along with detoxifying toxins and chemicals. And in doing these chores, the liver creates bile that is sent towards your intestine and then, your gallbladder. The liver also generates protein that is vital for several body functions, for instance blood clotting.

Liver Conditions

Listed below are some of the ailments that can plague your liver and cause you immense pain. Here, take a look:

1. Cirrhosis

If the damage that is weakening your liver goes unseen and untreated for a very long time, it causes horrible scarring that becomes permanent, and takes the form of a horrible liver ailment known as cirrhosis. This makes the liver completely impaired and renders it useless.

2. Liver Failure

There are several causes of liver failure, for instance substance abuse like alcoholism, genetic illnesses and infections.

3. Gallstones

Your liver can catch a horrible infection if a gallstone gets stuck inside the bile gut that drains all the bile from the liver. This can lead to hepatitis, or worse, cholangitis, which is a severe bile duct infection.

4. Hepatitis

Infections like Hepatitis A, B and C causesinflammation to occur within your liver, and sometimes, hepatitis is caused by non-infectious reasons, such as severe alcoholism, drug abuse, obesity or allergies.

5. Ascites

When your liver gets plagued with cirrhosis, it begins to leak the liquids inside it, and these liquids then enter the stomach, causing it to fill up and become heavy.

6. Liver cancer

Hepatocellular carcinoma is by far the most common type of liver cancer, and it tends to occur when the presence of cirrhosis has been detected.

7. Primary sclerosing cholangitis

This is an extremely rare kind of liver disease, and medical science has been unable to unveil much about its causes and origins. This disease causes severe scars and inflammation to occur in the bile ducts of the liver.

8. Hemochromatosis

This diseases allows iron to enter your liver, and that causes severe damage. And then, the iron travels through the rest of your body, and causes several other severe health ailments.

9. Primary biliary cirrhosis

Another extremely rare liver disease that remains ambiguous as doctors know little about what causes it and how it proceeds to gradually damage the bile ducts present inside your liver. It creates cirrhosis, which are basically permanent scars in your liver.

Most Effective Liver Tests

Listed below are some of the tests that you must perform as soon as you spot something wrong in the functioning of your liver.

Blood Tests

Here are the blood tests that help detect liver damage:

  1. Aspartate Aminotransferase

AST is a test that reports any possible damage done to your liver.

  1. Alanine Aminotransferase

An elevated ALT, like an AST, also detects the signs of liver damage or infection caused by several causes such as allergies and hepatitis.

  1. Alkaline phosphatase

Alkaline phosphatase is found in your bones and in the cells that secrete bile inside your liver. When high levels of alkaline phosphatase are found in your liver, it means that the bile that flows out of your liver is being blocked.

  1. Albumin

Albumin is a component that is counted alongside the overall protein content present inside your body. It helps detect any possible signs of damage in the functioning of the liver.

  1. Ammonia

High levels of ammonia present in your blood suggest that your liver isn’t healthy and is lacking in its functions.

  1. Bilirubin

If high levels of bilirubin are detected, they represent an ailing liver.

  1. Hepatitis A Examination

If the doctor suspects you to have hepatitis A, you will be prescribed a liver function examination, along with antibodies that will help spot the virus causing hepatitis A.

  1. Hepatitis B Examination

For detecting the hepatitis B virus, the doctor will ask you get your antibody levels tested.

  1. Hepatitis C Examination

In order to detect the hepatitis C virus, the doctor will examine blood tests along with the functioning of your liver.

  1. Liver function panel

This test helps examine the functioning of the liver, and it comprises of several blood tests.

  1. Partial Thromboplastin Time

A PTT is performed to detect signs of blood clotting.

  1. Prothrombin Time

A PT is performed to examine if the body is getting the right amount of blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin), along with detecting any possible signs of blood clotting.

Imaging Tests

These are imaging tests that are performed to detect liver ailments:

  1. CT scan

A computed tomography or a CT scan is performed to obtain detailed imagery of the damage done inside your abdomen and liver, along with the other organs present within your stomach.

  1. Liver Biopsy

This is usually conducted after performing some other tests, for instance an ultrasound or blood tests. It helps detect problems ailing your liver.

  1. Liver and Spleen scan

A nuclear scan that employs radioactive particles to aid in diagnosing several liver conditions, such as a tumors, abscesses and more.

  1. Ultrasound

An ultrasound of your abdomen can help detect several liver conditions, such as gallstone problems, cancer and cirrhosis.

Liver Treatments

Here are the treatments that doctor prescribe in order to cure liver diseases:

1. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography

ERCP is a treatment that helps doctors detect, diagnose and heal liver ailments. It employs a long, flexible tube, which has a camera and certain tools that help obtain imagery of the liver and other organs inside your abdomen.

2. Liver Transplant

When your liver simply cannot perform its functions, it requires a liver transplant, and it can be performed for several liver ailments.

3. Paracentesis

When you develop ascites, your abdomen begins to swell up and your liver is unable to perform its duties. It begins to cause you severe pain and discomfort. This treatment comprises of inserting a needle into your abdomen and draining all the fluid that has accumulated and caused the swelling.

4. Treatment for hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is treated through medication, and its symptoms get eliminated with the passage of time.

5. Treatment for hepatitis B

If your case is chronic, your doctor will prescribe you antiviral medicines to eliminate the symptoms.

6. Treatment for hepatitis C

Your treatment for hepatitis C will depend on various aspects and symptoms of your disease

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