Liver

Cause & Risk Factors

Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD) is damage to the liver induced by excessive alcohol consumption.

  • Alcohol bingeing and abuse over a long period of time can lead to ALD. Almost all the alcohol ingested is metabolised in the liver. If the alcohol consumption is higher than the rate of metabolism, the probability of developing ALD is potentially greater. Males drinking in excess of 80g and females in excess of 40g of alcohol per day for 10 years are at higher risk. Women are more susceptible to developing cirrhosis at an earlier age, exhibit symptoms at advanced stage and have more complications than males.
  • Genetics may play a role in the development of ALD.
  • Malnutrition can contribute to liver disease and it develops as a result of empty calories from alcohol, loss of appetite, malabsorption (inadequate absorption of nutrients).

Liver cirrhosis is an abnormal liver condition in which there is irreversible scarring of the liver. The main causes are sustained excessive alcohol consumption, viral hepatitis B and C, and fatty liver disease – however, there are many possible causes.

People with liver cirrhosis may develop jaundice (yellowing of the skin, eyes and tongue), itching and extreme tiredness.

liver dialysisLiver failure is a severe life-threatening condition that can present acutely or chronically. Unlike kidney failure, there is no long-term replacement treatment apart from liver transplantation. Liver transplantation is expensive, requires a donor, and involves a major operation. As it takes at least one week to organise an appropriate liver transplantation, liver dialysis is used as a bridge to liver transplantation for some patients with acute liver failure to support him/her through his/her liver failure until transplantation can be performed. Patients have been treated even up to one month while waiting for suitable living donors.

Liver dialysis is performed in the ICU in our dedicated Parkway Asian Transplant Unit, using a non-biological liver dialysis device known as the Molecular adsorbing re-circulating system (MARS™). It is the most commonly used device and it comes as an intermittent device or continuous device. Its charcoal-based system adsorbs the toxins, providing a detoxifying function without any contribution of the normal liver synthetic function. It may be coupled with a plasma separator and there may also be an albumin dialysate. The system usually has some way of trying to renew the cartridges to prolong its lifespan. This device has been utilised extensively at AALC for several years.

Liver failure occurs when large parts of the liver become damaged beyond repair and the liver is no longer able to function.

Liver failure is a life-threatening condition that demands urgent medical care. Most often, liver failure occurs gradually and over many years. However, a more rare condition known as acute liver failure occurs rapidly (in as little as 48 hours) and can be difficult to detect initially.

Liver-wellnessOur liver is the largest internal organ and the second largest human organ. It is one of the most vital organs that performs a myriad of functions. It is also the only organ that can regenerate or rebuild itself.

Shaped almost like a triangle and divided into 2 main lobes (the right and left lobes), the liver can weigh up to 1.4kg in an adult. It is dark reddish-brown in colour, and is located behind our right ribs and stretches across the abdomen to the left upper abdomen. It is covered entirely by a double layer of thin membrane that keeps it in place and reduces friction against other organs in the abdominal cavity. The liver functions as a regulation, storage and purification unit in our body.

Non-alcoholic-Fatty-Liver-DiseaseTriglyceride is a type of fats found in our diet and is also made in the liver. The liver then releases it for energy and cell growth.

When the process is interrupted or slowed down, the fats will start to build up in the liver cells. Thus, the term “fatty liver” for this condition. Fatty liver disorder is categorised into alcoholic fatty liver and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Liver cancer is a malignant tumour within the organ itself. There are two types of liver cancer – primary liver cancer a cancer which started (originated) in the liver, and secondary (metastatic) liver cancer a cancer which has spread from another part of the body/organs to the liver.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis. There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. The 3 most common causes of hepatitis are hepatitis A, B and C.