The liver is situated in the upper right side of the abdominal cavity and is the largest organ in the body, weighing 1200 -1600g. Liver is the largest organ of the body, located in the upper right portion of abdomen. It is a vital organ with many important functions. The main function of liver is removal of harmful substances from the blood and production of bile to assist in the digestion of food.
The liver functions are:
- Secretes bile for digestion of fats
- Replaces damaged cells
- Detoxifies blood
- Converts glucose to glycogen which is stored in liver cells and reconversion of glycogen to glucose when required
- Stores nutrients and vitamins
- Stores iron for red blood cell (RBCs) production
- Secretes cholesterol and produces amino acids
Once the liver has broken down harmful substances, its by-products are excreted into the bile or blood. Bile by-products enter the intestine and ultimately leave the body in the form of faeces. Blood by-products on the other hand are filtered out by the kidneys, and leave the body in the form of urine.
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Liver disease is any condition that affects liver function. Some of the diseases of liver are:
Is the inflammation of the liver caused by viruses. Hepatitis A is caused by hepatitis A virus (HAV), spreads primarily through contaminated food or water by stool from an infected person. Hepatitis B caused by hepatitis B virus, and spreads by contact with an infected person’s blood, semen and other body fluids. Hepatitis C caused by hepatitis C virus spreads through contact with the infected person’s blood, sexual contact, and from mother to baby. There is no specific treatment for hepatitis and resolves themselves.
It is a chronic liver disease characterized by abnormal structure and function of the liver. Healthy liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue, partially blocking the flow of blood through the liver. Treatment includes avoidance of alcohol, nutritional therapy and other therapies. Cirrhosis when not controlled by treatment, liver transplantation is considered. It is the final option for patients with liver failure. It is a major surgery in which the diseased liver is removed and replaced with a healthy liver from a donor.
It is a cancer arising from the liver and results from the abnormal growth of the cells in the liver. It is also known as hepatocellular carcinoma. Early cancers can be treated by surgery or a liver transplantation.
The treatment options for liver cancer are:
Partial hepatectomy is surgery wherein affected part of the liver is removed along with some of the healthy tissue around it. Total hepatectomy is surgical removal of entire diseased liver and replacing it with the healthy donated liver.
Radiofrequency ablation is another method wherein special probes with tiny electrodes are used to kill the cancer cells. High energy radio waves coming from the probe destroy the cancer cells.
Jaundice: Is not a disease, but rather a symptom of liver diseases. It is yellow discoloration of skin due to high levels of bilirubin in the blood.
Cryosurgery: Is a type of surgery that uses an instrument to freeze and destroy the cancerous cells.
Laser treatment: Is similar to radiofrequency ablation procedure, but uses lasers instead of radio waves to destroy the tumours.
Hemochromatosis: it is an inherited liver disease associated with abnormal accumulation of iron in multiple organs, leading to organ toxicity. The first step in the treatment is to get rid of excess iron from the body.
Phlebotomy is withdrawal of blood from the arm veins every one to two weeks. It is done by incising or cutting a vein and just letting the blood flow into a container. This procedure improves the liver function, and prevents the development of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.