Viruses and lifestyle choices can be at the root of liver, bile duct and pancreatic diseases.
The liver is the largest organ inside the body. It helps the body digest food, store energy and remove poisons.
Liver diseases and conditions occur as the result of varied causes. Viruses, like hepatitis A, B and C, can cause liver disorders. Liver disease can also be the result of drugs, poisons or drinking too much alcohol. Cancer of the liver can cause life-altering or deadly consequences. Some liver conditions result from inherited factors. One example is hemochromatosis, which is an excessive iron buildup that damages organs. If the liver forms scar tissue because of an illness, it’s called cirrhosis. Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin, can be a sign of liver disease.
Bile Duct Diseases
One of the main functions of a healthy liver is to make a substance called bile that helps with digestion. The gallbladder stores bile until it is needed to digest fat that has been consumed. When needed, the gallbladder pushes the bile into tubes called bile ducts. The ducts carry bile to the small intestine to aid digestion.
Several conditions can block the bile duct and cause a problem with the flow of bile. Gallstones are one of the most common causes of blocked bile ducts. However, blockage may also result from infection, cancer or internal scar tissue. Excessive scarring can block the bile duct and lead to liver failure.
A rare form of bile duct disease, called biliary atresia, occurs in infants. It is the most common reason for pediatric liver transplants in the United States.
The pancreas is a gland behind the stomach, near the first part of the small intestine. The pancreas sends digestive juices into the small intestine to help break down food. The pancreas also releases hormones that help control blood sugar levels.
Other common conditions of the pancreas include:
- Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas
- Pancreatic cancer
- Cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder in which thick, sticky mucus can block tubes of the pancreas
The expert care team at the Ohio State Pancreas Clinic can evaluate and manage patients with pancreatic disorders.