|Names||Doctor, Medical Specialist|
Hepatology is the branch of medicine that incorporates the study of liver, gallbladder, biliary tree, and pancreas as well as management of their disorders. Although traditionally considered a sub-specialty of gastroenterology, rapid expansion has led in some countries to doctors specializing solely on this area, who are called hepatologists.
Diseases and complications related to viral hepatitis and alcohol are the main reason for seeking specialist advice. More than two billion people have been infected with hepatitis B virus at some point in their life, and approximately 350 million have become persistent carriers. Up to 80% of liver cancers can be attributed to either hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus. In terms of mortality, the former is second only to smoking among known agents causing cancer. With more widespread implementation of vaccination and strict screening before blood transfusion, lower infection rates are expected in the future. In many countries, however, overall alcohol consumption is increasing, and consequently the number of people with cirrhosis and other related complications is commensurately increasing.
As for many medical specialties, patients are most likely to be referred by family physicians (i.e., GP) or by physicians from different disciplines. The reasons might be:
Evidence from autopsies on Egyptian mummies suggests that liver damage from the parasitic infection bilharziasis was widespread in the ancient society. It is possible that the Greeks may have been aware of the liver's ability to exponentially duplicate as illustrated by the story of Prometheus. However, knowledge about liver disease in antiquity is questionable. Most of the important advances in the field have been made in the last 50 years.[when?]
The word hepatology is from Ancient Greek ἧπαρ (hepar) or ἡπατο- (hepato-), meaning "liver", and -λογία (-logia), meaning "study".
1. International Classification of Disease (ICD 2007) – WHO classification:
2. MeSH (medical subject heading):sam
3. National Library of Medicine Catalogue
Also see Hepato-biliary diseases
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