What is hepatology?

Hepatology is a branch of medicine focused on diseases of the pancreas, bile ducts, and liver. Historically, this field was seen as a subset of gastroenterology. Although hepatology is not yet a recognized medical specialty in many regions of the world, clinicians may choose to focus exclusively on hepatology issues, and a specialist in this field is known as a hepatologist. Many hepatologists work in urban areas where there is a demand for medical specialists, although some rural areas provide ample patients who could benefit from the care of a hepatologist.

The liver is often the focal point of hepatology, because it is a critical organ and a surprisingly large number of things can happen to it. Hepatologists deal with genetic conditions involving the liver, such as enzyme deficiencies that inhibit liver function, and also deal with issues such as damage to the liver, pancreas, or biliary tract caused by viruses, alcohol abuse, obstructions, bacterial infection, cancers, hemorrhage internal, trauma, etc.

Like other medical specialists, a hepatologist generally only sees patients when they are referred. Patients are referred to a hepatology specialist when their primary care providers believe they have a problem that might warrant specialist attention. This can occur when someone has symptoms such as jaundice, ascites, or viral hepatitis in the blood, or when a doctor has good reason to suspect that a patient may be suffering from alcoholism.

A hepatologist may work as part of a health care team to treat a patient. For example, someone with a tropical bacterial infection involving the liver might benefit from the services of a hepatologist and microbiologist. Hepatologists also work with surgeons to coordinate surgical procedures, such as liver transplants, oncologists to treat cancer, and other health care providers as needed. Hepatologists may work in a private hospital or clinic, depending on the types of patients they tend to see.

In addition to being involved in patient care, a hepatology specialist may also be a researcher. The liver is involved in drug processing, which makes hepatology a valuable area of ​​skill for someone employed by a pharmaceutical company, and hepatology researchers may also study topics such as diseases of the liver, pancreas, and biliary tract. , looking for new treatment approaches. , potential prevention methods, and early detection tactics that can be used to identify such conditions before they permanently compromise a patient's health.

Go up