The Bile Flow - Hepatology Journal


Welcome to, an online journal and resource site concerning the study and health of the liver, biliary tract, gall bladder and pancreas.

What is Hepatology?

Hepatology is a branch of medicine that deals with diagnosis and treatment of issues involving the liver,pancreas, and biliary tract. A hepatologist treats diseases such as hepatitis and cirrhosis, both major diseases of the liver.

Hepatology has traditionally been a sub-field of gastroenterology, or the study of the digestive system. With the rise of diseases of the liver (as well as new treatments), it is increasingly being seen as its own separate field. At a hospital, both fields will often be under one department, though some hospitals (such as Stanford) have their own separate clinic dealing with liver problems.

The diseases and treatments involved with hepatology include:

  • Hepatitis
  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Ascites
  • Cirrhosis
  • Liver cancer

As a medical specialist, a hepatologist will only see patients based on referrals from other doctors. A patient may be referred due to certain symptoms such as jaundice, elevated levels of fat in the blood, dark urine, a yellowing of the eyes or pain in the upper right of the body - all these could be signs of liver problems. More general symptoms such as nausea, itchy skin, sudden weight loss (or weight gain) and fatigue can also be signs.

As the liver is a critical organ in the body, not only filtering poisons from the body but also storing nutrients, producing bile and helps clot the blood. A hepatologist will look at the liver and surrounding organs like the bile ducts, pancreas and gallbladder, and treat the damage caused by the hepatitis virus, fatty deposits, enzyme disorders, alcohol abuse, cancer, and other disorders. In extreme cases, they will order a liver transplant, and will work with a team of other specialists to oversee the operation.

Research and Cures

A hepatologist may not only be a doctor, but a researcher as well. In the last few years, new treatments for liver conditions, as well as vaccines for hepatitis have been developed by researchers and specialists. New screening methods to detect problems and studies on prevention have also been undertaken to help people stay healthy and free of liver and digestive problems.

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Copyright 2013

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