Liver disease can develop into a serious health problem and at The Liver Centre WA we are here to help you. Our hepatologists, liver surgeons and dietitians build on their many years of experience treating liver conditions such as Viral Hepatitis, Autoimmune Liver Disease, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, Primary Biliary Cholangitis, Alcoholic Liver Disease, Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD, NASH) and Polycystic Liver Disease. It is important to seek specialised care to avoid developing more serious complications such as liver cirrhosis and primary liver cancer.
Cirrhosis is a late stage of scarring (also called fibrosis) of the liver. The major causes are:
- alcohol abuse
- viral infections caused by chronic viral hepatitis (B, C and D)
- non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- autoimmune diseases damaging the bile ducts
- inherited metabolic diseases
When your liver function decreases, fewer proteins (such as albumin) are produced. In this case, you may start to accumulate fluid in your abdomen or in your legs. You may bleed and bruise easily, because your body now has a lower level of coagulation factors and platelets.
Treatment of Cirrhosis will depend on the severity and the exact cause. The main goal with this type of treatment is to delay the progression of scar tissue in your liver and to avoid complications.
With early cirrhosis, it may be possible to minimise the damage to your liver, by treating the underlying cause. Patients with cirrhosis caused by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may get healthier once they control their blood sugar levels and once they lose weight. All patients with cirrhosis, no matter if it was caused by alcohol or not, must stop drinking. If your condition is caused by hepatitis B or C, then hepatitis medications may control the damage to your liver cells.
In advanced cases of cirrhosis, when the liver stops functioning, a liver transplant may be the only treatment option.
At The Liver Centre WA in Perth, our doctors, surgeons and transplant surgeons can help you with all stages of cirrhosis.
The word hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. There are 5 main types of viral hepatitis, and each type has different causes. A blood test provides us with more information about the type of viral hepatitis you may be suffering from.
Hep A is usually caused by eating food or drinking water that is soiled and that contains the virus. It’s the least risky type of hepatitis because it doesn’t lead to long-term inflammation of your liver.
Hep B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. Over 250 million people world-wide are chronically infected with hepatitis B. It is estimated that over 800 000 people die each year from the complications of hepatitis B which include cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The virus is transmitted via contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected individual. Infection with hepatitis B can be prevented by a safe and effective vaccine.
Hepatitis B is most common in the Asia-Pacific region and Africa, while rates are lower in Australia where an estimated 200 000 people are infected. It is estimated that more than half of those with the virus in Australia are unaware they are infected.
Not all patients who are chronically infected require treatment, but close monitoring is required as the disease may fluctuate over time. When required, anti-viral medications are effective at reducing the rate of complications of the disease. At this time, it is not possible to eradicate the virus from an infected patient, but research is ongoing in this area.
Hep C passes on by blood-to-blood contact. Most hepatitis C infections in Australia result from sharing needles when injecting drugs. Other causes include a needlestick injury, getting a tattoo with equipment that is not sterile, or a blood transfusion with infected components.
Hep C treatments have always been very expensive. But in 2015, former Health Minister Sussan Ley announced the major new Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) which included great news for Hep C patients. Since 1 March 2016 the cost for four types of treatment have been reduced to $38.30 or $6.20 for concessional patients.
Hep D is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis D virus which needs the hepatitis B virus to exist. It is found in the blood. Hepatitis D is uncommon, yet it is the most severe form of viral hepatitis.
Hep E is transmitted via the faecal-oral route and can be spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Hepatitis E typically occurs in regions with poor sanitation and sewage management. Therefore it is common in Central and South-East Asia, North and West Africa and Mexico.
Diagnosis of viral hepatitis is based on symptoms and physical findings as well as blood tests for liver enzymes, viral antibodies and viral genetic materials.
At The Liver Centre WA in Perth, we treat all types of viral hepatitis.
Metabolic liver disease
Metabolic liver disease occurs when abnormal chemical reactions in the body disrupt your metabolism. This means your body either has too much of some substances or too little of others to be and stay healthy.
Hemochromatosis is a type of metabolic liver disease which is genetic and causes your body to absorb too much iron from foods. The extra iron is stored in the organs, including the liver and pancreas, which may cause serious problems such as cirrhosis.
Alcoholic liver disease
Alcoholic Liver Disease or ALD is liver damage caused by drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time. Alcoholic liver disease may cause cirrhosis, which is the final stage of ALD.
Fatty liver disease
If the fat in your liver makes up more than 10 percent of your liver's weight, you may have fatty liver disease. The Liver Centre WA in Perth treats two types of fatty liver disease: Alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). If you would like further information, please read more about fatty liver disease or get in touch with our friendly and helpful reception team at The Liver Centre WA. We are always happy to hear from you and assist however we can.
Polycystic liver disease
When you have Polycystic Liver Disease it means that cysts have developed in your liver. Polycystic Liver Disease or PLD is a hereditary genetic disorder and often is associated with Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease.
Autoimmune liver diseases
Autoimmune liver diseases are a group of diseases characterised by liver damage which is caused by the patient's own immune system.
There are 3 types:
where the damage to Primary Sclerosing cholangitis, Primary biliary cholangitis and autoimmune hepatitis.
At The Liver Centre WA in Perth, our first step is to organise the routine tests so we can create absolute clarity around your diagnosis. We believe you deserve expert surgery and clear communication, as well as comfort and compassion, when disease affects your everyday life. Our specialist hepatologists and liver surgeons will give you the best medical and surgical care, and will advise you about liver transplantation if necessary.
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) is a chronic disease of the bile ducts, which become blocked and scarred due to inflammation. That inflammation then leads to damage to medium to large size bile ducts. Overtime the disease may show the development of cirrhosis, and episodes of infection. PSC typically progresses slowly, and many patients may have the disease for years before symptoms start developing. Medical therapy for PSC is performed with ursodeoxycholic acid, but its use is controversial. Many people with PSC will ultimately need a liver transplant due to liver failure, or they develop cancer of the bile ducts (cholangiocarcinoma). Whatever your situation, at The Liver Centre WA in Perth, we will never give up on your health. You can count on us to organise expert surgery for you, as well as ongoing support on your treatment journey.
Primary Biliary Cholangitis
Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC) is an autoimmune disease of the bile ducts. Similar to AIH, PBC is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors but the exact cause remains unclear. The chronic damage mostly affects the very small bile ducts, and it may lead to cirrhosis of the liver.
Nowadays, the medication that is used can effectively slow down the disease's progression rate, particularly if a patient gets an early diagnose. This is why it is important to seek help from a specialised clinic and from a team of expert liver surgeons, such as The Liver Centre WA. Liver cirrhosis induced by PBC remains a frequent indication of liver transplantation. Whatever your diagnosis, our hepatologists and liver surgeons are here to organise the most effective and most comfortable treatment for you.
Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the liver which occurs when your body's immune system attacks its own liver cells. The cause of AIH is unknown, but it is thought that both environmental and genetic factors may be responsible for stimulating the disease. Without treatment, AIH may cause cirrhosis of the liver and its associated complications. If identified early, appropriate treatment with drugs which suppress the immune system may control the disease and prevent its progression. Aggressive forms of auto immune hepatitis can lead to the need of a liver transplantation. If you have been diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, our team of hepatologists, liver surgeons and specialist doctors will be here to help, and to organise your tests, surgery and aftercare program for you. We never give up on your health!
With any type of liver disease, your diet is an extremely important aspect of your treatment and care plan.
- If you have an advanced condition such as cirrhosis, then that means that your liver is no longer functioning properly. The metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins is impaired, and it can mean that muscle tissue and fat stores are broken down. In other words, your body has higher energy demands and you may suffer from malnutrition. With cirrhosis we may also advise you to restrict your fluid intake.
- With viral hepatitis, we will assess your dietary needs and adapt our recommendations to the condition of your liver.
- If you suffer from metabolic liver disease, it is essential to involve our liver specialists and dietitians, and to monitor your intake of minerals as well as your blood sugar levels.
- With haemachromatosis, a phlebotomy may be the treatment of choice, rather than a dietary iron restriction.
- With autoimmune liver disease, your dietary recommendations will depend on the functional capacity of your liver. There is a risk of protein deficiency.
- With alcoholic liver disease, your most important recommendation will be to stop drinking alcohol and to follow a balanced diet.
We work together as a multidisciplinary team, to define the most suitable diet for your liver condition. Our team is here to help and to offer you support and genuine care as you prepare for, or recover from liver surgery. It includes listening to you and paying attention to detail as we follow up on your symptoms (reflux, appetite, changes in bowel habits). We believe that you not only deserve expert surgery, you also deserve personal attention and support as you plan lifestyle changes and make a conscious effort to choose a more balanced diet going forward.
If you have any questions about general dietary recommendations for liver conditions, please contact The Liver Centre WA in Perth. We are happy to help you.