The field of medicine known as hepatology focuses on ailments relating to and affecting the liver.
A hepatologist is a specialist in hepatic illnesses, which include conditions that affect your liver and can be diagnosed and treated by:
Liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and bile duct
Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking of visiting a hepatologist for the diagnosis or treatment of a linked medical problem and want to get referred to this kind of specialist.
Because it focuses on the organs impacted by liver disorders, hepatology differs from other specialist fields of medicine. The following organs are part of your hepatic system.
The liver is the main focus of hepatic hepatology.
This vital organ is in charge of assisting with food digestion.
Vitamins that are fat-soluble, including vitamin D3 and vitamin E, are also processed and stored by the liver.
The pancreas, which is situated behind the stomach, is in charge of manufacturing both digestive enzymes and insulin.
Digestive enzymes can harm the pancreas and cause significant inflammation, leading to acute or chronic pancreatitis.
This may also occur if a stone blocks the liver’s or pancreas’ ability to secrete digestive enzymes.
A tiny organ called the gallbladder is situated in the upper right corner of your stomach.
The bile produced by the liver is stored in a pouch called the gallbladder. It contracts after a meal and releases its contents into the intestines to aid in digestion.
Bile imbalances can cause gallstone formation by obstructing bile flow.
The biliary tract connects the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas and is sometimes known as the biliary tree or biliary system.
Bile and pancreatic enzymes can enter the small intestine through the biliary tract to aid in digestion, especially the breakdown of fat.
The area of medicine dedicated to the digestive system’s problems is called gastroenterology.
This specialty focuses on illnesses that affect the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the organs from the mouth into the oesophagus along the alimentary canal. These medical professionals are known as gastroenterologists. They typically have eight years of pre-medical and medical education under their belts, a year-long internship (if it is not included in the residency), three years of internal medicine residency, and three years of gastroenterology fellowship. Colonoscopy, esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), endoscopic ultrasound (EUS), and liver biopsy are among the diagnostic and therapeutic procedures carried out by gastroenterologists.
Some gastrointestinal residents will finish a “fourth-year” in transplant hepatology, advanced interventional endoscopy, inflammatory bowel disease, motility, or other disciplines, even though this is frequently their seventh year of graduate medical education.
Advanced endoscopy, often known as interventional or surgical endoscopy, is a branch of gastroenterology that specialises in the use of cutting-edge endoscopic methods to treat gastrointestinal, hepatobiliary, and pancreatic diseases. Advanced endoscopic techniques, such as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, endoscopic ultrasound-guided diagnostic and interventional procedures, and advanced resection techniques, such as endoscopic mucosal resection and endoscopic submucosal dissection, are typically taught in a second year of rigorous training for interventional gastroenterologists.
Hepatologist or gastroenterologist?
A gastroenterologist or a hepatologist are the two options when choosing a specialist to treat hepatitis. Both are capable in treating liver disorders, however their educational backgrounds differ substantially. Your selection over which to select can be influenced by being aware of these distinctions.
A physician who is board certified in both internal medicine and gastrointestinal is known as a gastroenterologist. They must finish a two- to three-year gastroenterology fellowship, which entails in-depth research of conditions affecting the digestive system organs, in order to receive the latter credential (liver, stomach, intestines, pancreas, and gallbladder). A hepatologist is qualified to handle conditions affecting the liver and its companion organs, the pancreas and gallbladder. Hepatology does not have a formal certification exam, although there are rigorous one- and two-year fellowships where a specialist-in-training is exposed to a wide range of liver illnesses.
Additionally, advanced liver disease and liver transplants are managed by a transplant hepatologist who has received specialised training. After finishing a standard gastroenterology fellowship, one can pursue a one-year fellowship in transplant hepatology. It is a board-certified fellowship with accreditation. While it stands to reason that a physician with experience treating liver issues would be more qualified to treat hepatitis infections, this isn’t always the case. There is no basic reason why a hepatologist is more qualified to treat hepatitis than a gastroenterologist, despite the fact that hepatologists are well-versed in both current and experimental treatments for liver illness.
Whichever type of specialist you select, it’s critical to find a medical professional who not only has the necessary training but also has your trust and respect. You have the right to ask any questions that may help you decide whether the healthcare practitioner you’re considering for your treatment is qualified, approachable, and willing to listen.