Alcohol related liver disease

Excess alcohol consumption can lead to a gradual scarring of the liver and eventually may lead to cirrhosis and abnormalities of liver function. It is a very common cause of liver disease in the UK and it usually progresses gradually over many years. The risk of developing alcohol-related liver damage is directly proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed but can also be exacerbated by other factors such as obesity and diabetes. Susceptibility to alcohol-related liver disease can also run in families.

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Fatty liver disease

It is a condition whereby excess fat is deposited in the liver. This type of liver disease is becoming more prevalent and is now one of the most common liver disorders that a GP or liver specialist will see. The British Liver Trust estimate that up to 20% of the UK population have early signs of the disease.

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Hepatitis B (HBV)

Chronic Hepatitis B affects several hundred million people worldwide and one of the most common causes of cirrhosis and primary liver cancer. 

Infection is often acquired in early childhood and usually manifests no symptoms. Screening for this condition is important if there is a family history of HBV or if the patient is from a part of the world with high rates of infection. Though there is no cure, very effective treatments exist to control the infection and prevent liver disease. Many other patients will only require monitoring of

Hepatitis C (HCV)

Chronic Hepatitis C is the most common transmissible cause of liver disease in the UK and is a very important cause of end stage liver disease and primary liver cancer. 

Infection can remain undetected for many years and is usually asymptomatic. Routes of transmission include through transfusion of infected blood products before discovery of the virus in 1991. There are now several new highly effective and well tolerated medicines available to cure hepatitis C infection.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)

Lesions in the liver can be benign or malignant. Benign lesions are often an incidental finding and rarely cause any clinical concern. However some may require monitoring and rarely surgery is required to remove them.

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Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis refers to extensive scarring of the liver and can occur after many years of liver disease. It can cause long-term irreversible damage to the liver. Any form of chronic liver injury can lead to cirrhosis but the most common causes are excess alcohol, chronic viral hepatitis, and non-alcohol fatty liver disease (NAFLD). 

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Portal hypertension

Portal hypertension is one of the main consequences of the chronic liver disease. The portal vein is the main vein that carries nutrient-rich blood from the bowel, pancreas and spleen to the liver. The pressure of blood in this vein may rise because of a blockage, such as a blood clot, or more commonly because the flow of blood through the liver is restricted due to scarring (fibrosis) or cirrhosis.

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Abnormal Liver Function Tests (LFTs)

Liver function tests (LFTs) are frequently performed to detect early signs of liver injury or inflammation and to directly measure liver function. 

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Liver transplantation

Liver transplantation involves the replacement of the whole of a patient’s liver with that from a donor. Most donations occur from people who have an acute terminal illness and who had expressed an intention to donate their organs after death, a process called cadaveric donation.

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Benign Liver Lesion

A liver lesion is a focal area of abnormality within the liver that looks different to the areas surrounding it. There are various possible types of liver lesion, many of them are benign and not of any significant health concern. Frequently, lesions in the liver are found by chance when a person has a scan of the abdomen, quite often for entirely unrelated reasons.

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Bile Duct Diseases

The bile ducts are a series of tubes connecting the liver to the small bowel that drains bile from the liver into the gut. They arise as small branches within the liver and progressively join up to form the main bile duct, into which the gallbladder, a sac containing bile situated on the under surface of the liver, also drains.

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