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Liver Health: Common Diseases and Conditions that May Require Surgery

Liver Treatment at Aveksha Hospital, Bangalore

The liver is a crucial organ that performs several essential bodily functions, including detoxification of the blood, production of bile, and storage of vitamins and minerals. However, in some cases, liver diseases such as liver cancer or cirrhosis may require surgery. Additionally, in rare cases, individuals may choose to donate a portion of their liver to a recipient in need.

One of the fascinating aspects of liver surgery is that a healthy portion of the liver can regenerate and regrow itself after surgery. This remarkable ability to regenerate makes liver surgery a potentially life-saving option for individuals with liver diseases.

This blog will delve into the different liver diseases and conditions that may require liver surgery, explore the necessary preparations, and discuss the recovery process following surgery. 

Before we begin, Are you or a loved one facing the prospect of liver surgery? Our team of skilled surgeons at Aveksha, which includes Dr Raghunandan K S is available to offer top-notch support and care throughout the entire procedure. With the aid of cutting-edge technology and individualized treatment plans, we work to give our patients the best results possible. Look no further than Aveksha if you need a reliable surgical team for your liver surgery requirements in Bangalore (located near  Vidyaranyapura and Yelahanka). To arrange a consultation and start down the path to a healthier future, get in touch with us right away.

Exploring the Vital Role of the Liver

The liver is the largest solid organ and gland in the human body, serving several important functions. Your liver is located under the diaphragm on the upper right side of the abdomen and is connected to the small intestine via the bile duct. Bile is a digestive juice produced by the liver that aids in the breakdown of fats and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

It is also unique in that it can regenerate healthy cells to replace damaged ones. The liver is the only organ in the body that can do this. The liver weighs about 1.3 kg in women and 1.8 kg in men on average, and it can restore its functions to normal levels following damage and subsequent regeneration of liver cells.

The liver plays 500 vital functions in the body, but some of them are:

  • Detoxification: Toxins and harmful substances are filtered from the blood by the liver, which converts them into less harmful forms that can be excreted from the body.
  • Metabolism: The liver is responsible for the metabolization of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, as well as the regulation of blood glucose levels.
  • Bile Production: Bile is produced by the liver and aids in the digestion and absorption of fats in the small intestine.
  • Nutrient Storage: The liver stores vitamins and minerals such as iron, copper, and vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Blood Clotting: The liver produces several proteins required for blood clotting, which aids in preventing excessive bleeding from wounds or injuries.

Common Liver Diseases and Their Causes: A Brief Guide

Liver diseases can range from relatively mild conditions like a fatty liver disease to serious and potentially fatal conditions like cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Viral hepatitis (such as hepatitis A, B, and C), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), alcoholic liver disease, cirrhosis, autoimmune hepatitis, hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, and primary biliary cholangitis are all common liver diseases. These diseases can be caused by a variety of factors, including viral infections, genetic disorders, excessive alcohol consumption, and metabolic imbalances. Early detection and treatment of liver diseases are critical to preventing further damage and maintaining liver function.

Liver disease is often considered a silent killer because it often does not show symptoms until significant damage has already occurred. Many people may not experience non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) symptoms until the disease has progressed to a more advanced stage, such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Similar to chronic viral hepatitis, chronic viral hepatitis frequently does not cause symptoms in its early stages, which can lead to a delay in diagnosis and treatment. Chronic hepatitis can cause liver damage, cirrhosis, and an increased risk of liver cancer over time.

Alcoholic liver disease is another example of a silent killer liver disease. Many alcoholics are unaware of the harm they do to their liver until they experience symptoms such as fatigue, abdominal pain, or jaundice. Significant liver damage may have already occurred at this point.

Liver Surgery: Conditions That May Require It and What to Expect During the Procedure

Liver surgery is a medical procedure for treating various liver diseases and ailments. Various types of liver surgeries may be recommended depending on the underlying condition. These procedures can range from liver resection, which involves removing a portion of the liver, to liver transplant, which involves replacing the entire liver with a healthy liver from a donor. Furthermore, liver surgery may include surgically repairing liver injuries.

The following are five liver diseases or conditions that may necessitate liver surgery:

  • Liver cancer: Liver cancer is a serious condition in which malignant cells grow in the liver. Surgical resection of the affected part of the liver may be required to remove the tumour, depending on the extent and location of cancer.
  • Liver Cirrhosis: Liver Cirrhosis is another chronic liver disease in which scar tissue replaces liver tissue, impairing liver function. A liver transplant may be required in severe cases.
  • Liver Cyst: In the liver, sometimes a cyst occurs. These cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can form in the liver and cause pain and discomfort. Cysts that are large or symptomatic may necessitate surgical removal.
  • Bile Duct Cancer: Bile duct cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects the bile ducts, which carry bile from the liver to the small intestine. Surgical removal of the affected part of the liver and/or bile duct may be required depending on the extent and location of the cancer.
  • Liver trauma or injury: Severe liver trauma or injury, such as a car accident or a fall, may necessitate surgical intervention to repair or remove damaged tissue.
  • Liver tumors: A liver tumour can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Malignant liver tumours, such as hepatocellular carcinoma, can be life-threatening and require prompt treatment. Surgery is often the most effective treatment. Surgery aims to remove the tumour and any affected surrounding tissue while preserving as much healthy liver tissue as possible.

There are two types of liver surgery: resection and transplantation. Resection is the surgical removal of a portion of the liver, whereas transplantation is the replacement of the entire liver with a healthy donor liver. Both procedures require general anaesthesia and are usually done in a hospital.

Preparation: Prior to surgery, the patient will have several tests performed to assess their liver function and overall health. They may be required to discontinue certain medications, such as blood thinners, and fast for a few hours prior to surgery. In some cases, the surgeon may need to perform an MRI or CT scan to better understand the liver and plan the procedure.

Furthermore, recovery time after liver surgery varies according to the type and extent of the surgery. The patient will be hospitalized for a few days following the procedure. They may feel pain and discomfort, but pain medication and other supportive care measures can help them manage their symptoms. To aid in the healing process, the patient will also need to follow a specific diet and activity plan.

One of the most amazing aspects of liver surgery is the liver’s ability to regenerate. Following a resection, the remaining healthy liver tissue can regrow and compensate for the tissue that was removed. Furthermore, liver transplants are feasible because the liver can regenerate and return to full function in a matter of months.

Risks: As with any surgery, there are some risks associated with liver surgery. Bleeding, infection, blood clots, and organ damage are all possible complications. However, the risk of complications can be reduced by carefully following the surgeon’s pre and post-operative instructions.

Takeaway notes

Tips to keep the liver healthy: To keep your liver healthy, maintain a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Stay hydrated, limit alcohol consumption, maintain a healthy weight, and get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. Avoid smoking, limit exposure to toxins, and follow a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise. Following these tips can help protect your liver and reduce the risk of liver disease and damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the various kinds of liver surgery?

There are various types of liver surgery, such as liver resection, transplantation, and laparoscopic liver surgery.

  • What are some of the most common reasons for liver surgery?

Typically, liver surgery is done to remove tumors, treat liver cancer, manage liver disease, or transplant a new liver.

  • How is a tumor removed from the liver surgically?

Depending on the size and location of the tumor, liver surgery to remove it can be done open or laparoscopically.

  • What is the cost of liver surgery?

The cost of liver surgery in India can vary widely depending on the type of surgery required, the complexity of the procedure, the hospital where it is performed, and the qualifications of the medical team involved. On average, the cost of liver surgery in India can range from around Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs. 10 lakhs or more. It is important to note that this is just an estimate, and actual costs may vary based on individual circumstances.

  • What is the severity of liver surgery?

Liver surgery is a serious procedure that comes with risks such as bleeding, infection, and organ damage. However, in some cases, it can be life-saving.

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  • How does a scar from liver surgery appear?

The appearance of a scar from liver surgery varies depending on the type of surgery and the location of the incision. It can appear as a raised, reddish scar or as a thin, white line.

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