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Liver Disease: A Brief Overview

Liver disease is a catch-all term that refers to a number of conditions that can harm the liver – the football-sized organ that filters blood from the digestive system and performs several other vital functions. The effects of liver disease can range considerably based on the specific condition at hand, but many individuals face symptoms that negatively impact their quality of life. For some, liver transplantation may be the necessary course of treatment.

Tampa General Hospital’s Liver Disease and Hepatology Program caters to individuals with all types of liver disease, whether or not transplantation is recommended. We stand at the forefront of surgical and non-surgical liver care; in fact, our team of hepatology specialists possesses a unique level of experience treating patients with even the most uncommon and complex conditions. This level of specialized expertise, combined with TGH’s advanced approach to treatment, translates directly into world-class outcomes for our patients. To speak with a physician, take advantage of our Physician Finder or contact TGH’s Liver Disease and Hepatology Program at 1-800-505-7769 for more information about our services for patients with liver disease.

How Many Liver Diseases are There?   

There are dozens of liver diseases that impact liver function in different ways. Here’s a quick list of some of the most common types:

  • Hepatitis A, B and C, which are viral infections that cause liver inflammation
  • Liver diseases that can result from excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet and drug use, including fatty liver disease (such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) and cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
  • Vascular diseases that affect blood flow in the liver, such as Budd-Chiari syndrome and veno-occlusive liver disease
  • Metabolic liver problems like polycystic liver disease that causes cysts to grow throughout the liver 
  • Cholesteric diseases that block the liver’s bile ducts and cause cirrhosis
  • Liver cancer, which occurs when cells in the liver multiply abnormally and can be the result of some chronic liver conditions

How is Liver Disease Treated?

If you’ve been diagnosed with liver disease, your ideal course of treatment will depend on the specific condition and your overall health. Some types of liver disease can be treated with lifestyle modifications like losing excess weight and refraining from alcohol. Other types may require that you take certain medications to control symptoms, or surgery to remove a portion of the liver. In the most severe cases of liver disease, liver transplantation may be recommended.

When is Liver Transplant Surgery Necessary?

There’s no short answer to this question, but liver transplantation may become a viable treatment option if you:

  • Have exhausted all other treatment options without success
  • Have a life expectancy of fewer than two years without a transplant
  • Are at high risk of liver failure   

Some liver conditions that may warrant liver transplant include late-stage cirrhosis, invasive polycystic liver disease and fulminant liver failure.

TGH believes that every patient is unique and requires a personalized treatment approach. While other hospitals practice medicine, we define it by implementing the latest diagnostic advances to catch disease early and taking a multidisciplinary approach to treatments to achieve above-average outcomes. Moreover, patients who need a liver transplant can turn to TGH for some of the shortest wait times in the country.

Contact Tampa General Hospital’s Liver Disease and Hepatology Program today at 1-800-505-7769 to learn more – a referral is not required to schedule an appointment.