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Digestive Conditions of the Liver

The Center for Digestive Health at Beth Israel provides a detailed and focused approach to diseases of the liver. We offer internationally-recognized expertise in the surgical, gastroenterological, endoscopic and medical management of these disorders, and work closely with our highly skilled radiologic and oncologic colleagues when necessary in order to provide the most appropriate therapeutic program with a patient-centered approach to these medical problems.

Some liver conditions include:

Hepatitis
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver principally caused by one of several viruses, alcohol and drugs. The Center has special expertise in Hepatitis B and C.


Autoimmune Liver Diseases
Patients diagnosed with an autoimmune liver disease suffer from conditions where the body's immune system attacks the liver. The most common autoimmune liver diseases are:

  • Primary biliary cirrhosis - an irritation and swelling (inflammation) of the bile ducts of the liver, which blocks the flow of bile. This obstruction damages liver cells and leads to scarring called cirrhosis.
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis - a chronic autoimmune disease caused by progressive inflammation and scarring of the bile ducts of the liver. The inflammation impedes the flow of bile to the gut, which can ultimately lead to liver cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis - a disease in which the body's immune system attacks liver cells. This immune response causes inflammation of the liver.


Fatty Liver Diseases
An increasingly common cause of liver dysfunction which requires treatment.


Genetic Conditions

  • Hemochromatosis - when too much iron is absorbed and deposited in the liver
  • Wilsonís disease - when the liver improperly retains copper
  • Cystic fibrosis - a genetic disorder in which the small tubes inside liver produce abnormal secretions which block the organís normal function


Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver. The condition impacts liver functions, the end result of chronic liver damage caused by chronic liver diseases. Cirrhosis has many causes. The most common causes are alcoholism and viruses (often in combination).


Cancer
Includes patients with primary liver cancer (arising in the liver) and metastatic (arising in another organ).


Diagnostic Tools for Liver Conditions

Liver Biopsy
Pathologists analyze liver tissue removed by a needle under imaging guidance or during surgery to make a diagnosis. The Center has pathologists who have special expertise in the interpretation of liver biopsy tissue.


Imaging
Scans such as ultrasound, CT (computed tomography), PET (positron emission tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).


Interventional Radiology
Specially trained radiologists pass needles and tubes under imaging guidance to allow diagnosis and therapy in cases where medical or surgical management is undesirable or not possible.


Biochemical Liver Tests
These are specialized tests of patientís blood.


Treatment Options
Treatment strategies for liver conditions vary depending on the type of condition and its progression.

Lifestyle and Medication

  • Prescription medicines, including new anti-viral drugs administered through the Centerís clinical research program
  • Changes in diet and other lifestyle modifications
  • Nutritional guidance and other support


Surgery

  • Surgical intervention (both minimally and traditional open procedures) to treat parts of the liver for benign or cancerous disease.


Other

  • Chemoembolization of liver tumors and radiofrequency ablation performed by Interventional Radiology. The Centerís specialists emoblize (plug up from a distance) an artery that is feeding a tumor or apply heat through radiofrequency probes to destroy it without harming the healthy liver around it. Tumors can also be injected with anti-cancer agents.
  • Radiation or chemotherapy
  • Psychosocial services, including help for alcoholism and robust program of addiction specialists


To learn more about the many services provided by the Center for Digestive Health at Mount Sinai Beth Israel or to make an appointment for a consultation, please call
(212) 604-6822.

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