Hepatology is the branch of medicine that deals with the study, prevention, diagnosis, and management of diseases affecting the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas.

What does a hepatologist do?

A hepatologist is a doctor specialized in gastroenterology with clinical experience in the field of hepatology, who diagnoses and treats diseases that affect the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas. The doctor is also responsible for monitoring the health of patients who received a liver transplant.

What diseases are treated by a hepatologist?

Among the diseases that a hepatologist can treat are viral hepatitis and liver disease associated with alcohol abuse. In particular, the hepatologist can diagnose and treat diseases and disorders such as non-viral hepatitis, hepatitis A, B, C, and E, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, herpes simplex, yellow fever and rubella, Chronic Viral Hepatitis, fatty liver, alcoholic and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, metabolic syndrome, and cirrhosis of the liver. Other diseases and disorders include hepatic cysts, liver cancer, jaundice, drug overdose, intestinal bleeding caused by portal hypertension, enzyme defects that lead to an enlarged liver in children, hydatid, schistosomiasis, and genetic and metabolic liver diseases. Furthermore the doctor can diagnose hemochromatosis, pancreatitis, damage to the pancreas caused by infections, tumors and alcohol abuse, bleeding and obstruction, simple or cavernous hemangioma, focal nodular hyperplasia, adenoma, cancers of the biliary system, cholangiocarcinoma, and cancer of the gallbladder. 

What are the procedures used by a hepatologist?

Among the procedures a hepatologist uses are the endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC), and the transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPSS). 

When should a patient visit a hepatologist?

A general practitioner will send a patient to visit a hepatologist for reasons such as overdosing on drugs, jaundice, ascites, gastrointestinal bleeding, and anomalies in blood test results.