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A doctor who specializes in Hepatology—the study of diseases that infect the liver, gall bladder, biliary tract, and pancreas, is called a Hepatologist. A hepatologist focuses on diagnosing and treating patients whose liver and other aforementioned organs are affected by hepatic disease.
In the beginning, it was treated as a subspecialty of gastroenterology but advancements, studies and researches in the last few decades have allowed hepatology to emerge as a specialty in its own right. It still remains closely connected with its parent field given the fact that it involves parts of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that includes the esophagus, intestines, rectum and any other part that has anything to do with the process of digestion.
In simple words, a hepatologist treats and manages the hepatic disease and any organ that it can affect.
You must consult a doctor if you have any of the symptoms below:
Closely observing your symptoms and medical history, your general care physician will decide whether to opt for a hepatologist or a gastroenterologist. You’ll seek consultation from a hepatologist for the abnormalities in the liver and related areas.
Note: If you have been referred to get a liver transplant by your GP, you go for a gastroenterologist who is an expert in hepatology. If you’ve already undergone a liver transplant and you are on treatment of immunosuppression (suppression of body’s immune system by intentional induction of drugs in order to prevent organ rejection)
On World Hepatitis Day 2019, World Health Organization (WHO) announced that there are 15 million people in Pakistan who have been affected with hepatitis, 90% of them are unaware that they have the infection:
A report published in Express Tribune suggests that the mortality rate stands at around 4% that accounts for 120,000 deaths each year due to the infection. This implies 325 deaths every day as compared to the highest daily death toll due to COVID-19 recorded to be 153.
As per the news “World Hepatitis Day 2021: Hepatitis can’t wait” by the WHO EMRO, Pakistan has the highest prevalence of Hepatitis C (5%) globally, which is only second to China.
According to the “Frequency of Hepatorenal Syndrome among Patients with Cirrhosis and Outcome after Treatment” Hepatorenal syndrome is the third most common cause of admissions among patients with liver cirrhosis.
Liver specialists more than often deals with viral hepatitis that might, unfortunately, lead to liver cancer and liver transplant. A considerable chunk of their focus is also diverted to fatty liver disease and pancreatitis.
When looking for an apt treatment for your hepatic issue, you tend to choose from the following considering the seriousness of your condition, as recommended by your general care physician:
A doctor who is certified not only in internal medicine but gastroenterology focusing on the disorders pertaining to the digestive tract, from the esophagus to the rectum and pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts and the liver.
A hepatologist is a doctor who is specifically dedicated to dealing with the issues of the liver and the related organs—the pancreas and the gallbladder.
Hepatologist who is trained for advanced liver diseases and liver transplants.
You would have to pass through the following stages in order to become a hepatologist:
Once you have become a certified gastroenterologist, you must thenceforth dedicate the majority of your focus on liver and relevant complications in order to enhance your expertise.
You can also opt to pursue your studies abroad for specialization and certifications like FRCS, MRCGP, etc.
Hepatologists will treat both adults and pediatric patients for the following:
Note: A hepatologist can diagnose cancer but may refer the patient to an oncologist for further treatment.
Besides running urine and blood tests for diagnosis, a hepatologist carries out procedures that include endoscopy, colonoscopy and liver biopsy.
Finding a good doctor is vital for proper diagnosis & treatment of your underlying concern. Before you make the decision of picking out a Hepatologist, consider the following: