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What Type of Doctor Specializes in the Liver?

By Jonae Fredericks ; Updated July 27, 2017

Liverfoundation.org reports that chronic alcoholism, a hepatitis infection and certain types of medications can lead to liver damage. If you have recently had a blood test that reveals abnormal levels of liver proteins or enzymes, it may be indicative of a liver disorder. There are two types of doctors that have specialized training in treating these conditions.

Fact

Weighing in at approximately 3 lbs., the liver is the largest organ in the human body, and according to Medicinenet.com, it is also the largest gland. The liver is responsible for producing the bile that helps your body digest the foods that you eat, and can be found in the upper part of your abdomen.

Purpose of the Liver

Aside from bile production, your liver also plays a large role in the control of your metabolism, protein production and body detoxification.

Gastroenterologist

According to gi.org, a gastroenterologist is a doctor who specializes in the many dynamics of digestion. The stomach, esophagus, intestines, gallbladder, pancreas and the liver are all main components in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. While a specific gastroenterologist may concentrate on the treatment of simpler conditions such as, acid reflux, others may possess the expertise and training to treat more serious liver conditions.

Hepatologist

If your family doctor suspects that you may have a more serious illness such as hepatitis, in which the liver is severely compromised, he may send you to a hepatologist. Liver disease is the main, comprehensive focus of the hepatologist, who receives specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

Liver Disease

The University of Illinois Medical Center (uimc.discoveryhospital.com) defines liver disease as a condition that affects the function of the liver or its collection of cells and tissue. A hepatologist will have the most up-to-date information in regard to recent medication and treatment breakthroughs.

Gastroenterology and Hepatology Combined

There are some gastroenterologists who have taken specialized courses in the field of hepatology. Although these specialists do have a respectable knowledge of liver disease, liverdisease.com notes that their level of expertise does not exceed that of the hepatologist.

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