The liver is a complex organ that is responsible for many different body functions. When a patient develops liver disease, it may take many forms that can range broadly in terms of severity. For some people, liver disease may only cause inflammation of the liver that either gets better on its own or when treated by a hepatologist. In a small number of cases, liver inflammation can lead to end-stage liver disease like cirrhosis that may require liver transplantation.
Two of the most common causes of liver disease are heavy alcohol use and viral hepatitis, such as hepatitis B and C. But not all liver disease is related to these causes. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is quickly becoming a common cause of chronic liver disease in the U.S. There are also a number of hereditary and autoimmune liver diseases.
Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook
Liver disease is often found when blood tests reveal elevated liver enzymes. Your hepatologist will evaluate any abnormal test results with additional blood work and radiology tests, like ultrasound, computed tomography and MRI. Sometimes it is necessary to complete a liver biopsy to determine the type of inflammation present and if scar tissue is developing that can lead to cirrhosis.
Meet the Team
Why Choose Penn State Health for Care
The Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center hepatology team includes a diverse group of providers who have specialized training in caring for patients with liver disease, such as cirrhosis, as well as evaluating patients for liver transplantation and providing post-transplant patient care.