Disorders of the Liver, Gallbladder and Pancreas
Two of the most common liver diseases are cirrhosis and hepatitis. Cirrhosis, which often results from alcohol abuse, is caused by the death of cells in the liver, which are then replaced by connective tissue. Liver function is impaired and the flow of blood into the liver may be hindered as a result. Hepatitis is caused by three different types of virus. As such, it is commonly classified as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Hepatitis A is transmitted by poor sanitation practices or by eating mollusks living in waters contaminated with the virus. Hepatitis B is a blood-borne disease that is often spread through sexual contact with an infected person or by using hypodermic needles that have been previously used by an infected person. Hepatitis C is a chronic disease that can result in cirrhosis or cancer of the liver. It can also be transmitted through the blood and is common in patients who have received blood transfusions.
A common condition affecting the gallbladder is gallstones. Gallstones can occur when bile hardens in the gallbladder. Although gallstones are usually caused by too much cholesterol in the bile, they can also be caused by bile that contains too much bilirubin or bile salts. Two types of gallstones are cholesterol stones and pigment stones. As their name would suggest, cholesterol stones are primarily made out of cholesterol. They are usually yellowish green. Pigment stones are usually made out of bilirubin. They tend to be dark colored. Sometimes gallstones can enter the cystic duct, where they can become lodged and prevent bile or pancreatic juice from being released. This can prevent chyme from being digested properly.
Three disorders of the pancreas include pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, and type 1 diabetes mellitus. In pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, the enzymes that the pancreas makes become active while they are still inside the organ and begin to digest the tissue. Pain is quite common, and people with pancreatitis are likely to have nutritional deficiencies because of the role of the pancreas in secreting digestive enzymes. Acute pancreatitis is a serious condition that can be caused by gallstones, overuse of alcohol, infections such as mumps, and some drugs. Some causes of chronic pancreatitis are genes, cystic fibrosis, high levels of fat in the blood, abuse of alcohol, or increased activity of the parathyroid gland. Often the attacks happen after a round of binge drinking. They then become more frequent, and the pain associated with them often worsens and becomes more continuous.
Pancreatic cancer can either develop in the head or in the body or tail, and it can occur in either endocrine or exocrine glands. If the tumor is in the head, jaundice can occur because bile secretion is blocked. However, if the tumor is in the body or tail, pain is more common. Men who smoke are more likely to get pancreatic cancer, and other risk factors include eating foods high in fat, sugar and red meat. The prognosis for these patients tends to be poor, and treatment is usually aimed at easing their symptoms. However, some patients may undergo a Whipple procedure. In this procedure, the distal part of the stomach, the duodenum, the parts of the jejuneum, the head of the pancreas (or possibly the entire pancreas), the portion of the common bile duct that empties into the duodenum, and the gallbladder are removed. Sometimes the spleen is also removed. Then the stomach, the common bile duct, and the pancreas are attached to the jejuneum.
Type 1 diabetes is the result of an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system destroys the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. This can lead to excessive amounts of glucose in the blood, which can cause a buildup of ketones. This buildup of ketones is quite serious and could result in a diabetic coma and death.Last Updated: Saturday, July 16, 2011