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Hepatology Q and A

Liver highlighted in an x-ray

Source: Thinkstock

What is a hepatologist and how do they differ from a gastroenterologist?

A hepatologist is a physician who has had specialized training in diagnosing and managing liver disease.  They differ from a gastroenterologist in that they have had this specific training either in addition to or in place of standard gastroenterology training.  They also usually have an intense interest in managing liver disease.

What conditions would a hepatologist diagnose and treat?

A hepatologist diagnoses and treats cirrhosis, alcoholic liver disease, fatty liver, hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, autoimmune hepatitis, hemochromatosis, and Wilson’s disease to name a few.  They are also involved with investigating abnormal liver function tests and treating the complications of cirrhosis and portal hypertension such as esophageal varices, ascites, and encephalopathy.  Most hepatologists are involved some way in coordinating liver transplant and treating the patient both before, during, and after.  Not all hepatologists are “transplant hepatologists” and these are physicians who are tied to a specific transplant center and are involved intimately with the listing and management of the patient immediately before, during, and after the transplant.

What should I expect at my first visit?

The patient’s first visit would be similar to any other physician visit.  They should expect a thorough history with multiple questions (often unusual questions) and a detailed physical examination.  Laboratory tests and ultrasound examinations are also usually ordered.

To schedule a visit call ADC Gastroenterology and Hepatology  at 1-512-901-4057.