Liver Diseases (Hepatology)

The liver is a multi-function organ located at the right upper quadrant of the abdomen under the ribs.

Hepatology is the study of the liver and the diseases that may affect it.

The liver is the filter for the blood removing alcohol, drugs, preservatives and any other toxins we become in contact with, from the body.

All the blood from the digestive filter passes through the liver and all the nutrients are taken into the liver cells (hepatocytes) where they are transformed into energy and stored as glycogen. The liver cells also use these nutrients to synthesize essential elements our body needs like bile, cholesterol, plasma proteins, coagulation and immune factors and essential proteins like albumin.

The liver is also a site for nutrient and vitamin storage.

Because of all the function the liver performs, when liver disease develops the hole body is affected.

The liver is the organ with the capability to regenerate in the body and that is why it is so important to detect and treat liver disease early on its course to allow healing and preserve its function.

To learn more about how our gastroenterologists treat liver disease, visit our Hepatology Center.


Hepatitis: inflammation of the liver

Jaundice: yellow tint to the skin and the white of the eyes commonly present in liver disease

Ascites: accumulation of fluid in the abdomen leading to a progressively prominent abdomen and eventually to difficulty breathing

Anasarca: fluid retention not only in the abdomen but also in the skin and under the skin in all dependent parts of the body leading to rapid weight gain

Varices: Engorgement of internal veins with the risk of rupture and bleeding into the digestive tract

Melena: black and tarry stools resulting from digested blood

Hematemesis: vomiting blood

Shunt: communication between two veins to decrease the pressure and prevent bleeding

Tumor: abnormal growth of cells which can be benign (non cancerous or malignant (cancerous)

Endoscopy: to introduce a slim tube with a light and a camera on its tip, through a natural orifice (mouth or anus) to evaluate the digestive tract to diagnose or treat conditions. The non surgical procedures allow to biopsy or remove tumors as well as to determine the source and or treat bleeding lesions.

Liver biopsy: To introduce a needle between 2 ribs on the right rib cage, to obtain small samples of the liver

Conditions we treat for liver disease

Patient Resources

Carilion Clinic is committed to providing support and resources for patients with liver disease. Visit our Patient Resources section for a list of organizations for more information.