Hepatitis, Alcoholism, Cirrhosis, and Liver Transplant
Hepatitis is a term indicating inflammation within the liver – from any cause – viral, alcohol, fat, hereditary excess iron or copper, autoimmune diseases et cetera. Inflammation can lead to scarring.
Cirrhosis is a term that denotes a certain stage of scarring within the liver. It does NOT equal alcoholism in and of itself.
So, we see that in the liver, the body’s response to any form of “insult” potentially leads to inflammation and scarring. Scarring can progress over years to become cirrhosis. Cirrhosis can be there without symptoms. Cirrhosis can progress to cause profound life-altering problems and may necessitate liver transplant to be life-prolonging. Cirrhosis has two main clinical staging systems, the Child’s Class and MELD score. For example Child’s grade of an A, B or C, just as in school, A is better than C – and it has nothing to do with the cause of the cirrhosis. Cirrhosis can also be subjected to another clinical and lab-based scoring system, the Model for End Stage Liver Disease, also known as the MELD. The MELD is used by the United Network of Organ Sharing, UNOS, to prioritize those who receive a liver transplant.
Common causes of cirrhosis, leading to liver transplant in the USA, include Hepatitis C infection, alcoholism and obesity.
In some people, excess fat is preferentially deposited in the liver. This fatty liver can be as a result of alcohol (alcoholic lever disease, ALD) or without any alcohol intake at all (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, NAFLD). Without other apparent underlying cause, in some people this fat deposited within the liver leads to sufficient inflammation (for example non-alcoholic steato-hepatitis or NASH) as to lead to scar formation and progress to cirrhosis.
As always, a thoughtful history and physical exam by a gastroenterologist goes a long way to determine what is going on. Tests to determine what is going on may include blood tests, ultrasound or CT scans, liver biopsy and EGD to screen for varices, a complication of cirrhosis if this is suspected.
Based in the heart of uptown and the Garden District of New Orleans, Dr. Huilgol (”Dr. Viv”), a member of the AASLD (the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases), and the team at NOLA Gastro is committed to working with you to investigate what is going on, so you can make the correct choices for you.
Alcoholism is a strange disease with a spectrum of manifestations. I pass no judgment about how you got to the point that you realized you need treatment but it is a necessity that all alcohol and other drug use be halted for me to be able to treat you effectively.
Dr. Huilgol works closely with a prominent HBV expert and the leading liver transplant program in the USA. Ask me how.
GI and Liver health matters. Let’s work it out together.
Call 504-249-5901 and make an appointment…