Liver Diseases

The liver is the largest and heaviest organ inside your body. It's located in the upper right part of the abdomen, just below the diaphragm.

The liver's main functions

Your liver performs more than 400 functions every day to keep your body healthy, including:

  • Generate bile, which helps with the digestion of fats
  • Store, release and convert sugar from the blood
  • Produce large proteins that are important for cell growth, reproduction and repair
  • Cleanse the body of bacteria and waste products such as ammonia
  • Regulate blood volume by storing and releasing blood into circulation when it is needed
  • Produce proteins that are responsible for blood clotting

Our liver transplant team will thoroughly assess your condition to determine your best option for treatment. Before and after your liver transplant, they will answer your questions and provide you with care and support.

Types of liver disease

We provide expert treatment for all types of liver diseases. These are some of the most common types of liver conditions that may require a transplant.

Alpha 1 – antitrypsin deficiency
This is the most common genetic cause of liver disease in newborns and children, but it may also appear in late childhood or adulthood. Symptoms include jaundice, fatigue, poor appetite, swelling of the abdomen and legs or abnormal liver tests. It may lead to hepatitis and cirrhosis.

Autoimmune hepatitis
This progressive inflammation of the liver is associated with an abnormality of the body's immune system related to the production of antibodies. Common symptoms include fatigue, abdominal discomfort, aching joints, itching, jaundice, enlarged liver and spider angiomas, or tumors on the skin.

Cancer and noncancerous tumors
The most common type of cancerous liver tumor is hepatocellular carcinoma. People with cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis B or C are at much greater risk of liver cancer. Noncancerous tumors include adenomas and glycogen storage disease, an inherited metabolic disorder.

Chronic hepatitis
This ongoing liver inflammation lasts longer than six months. Causes include viruses, metabolic or immunologic abnormalities and medications. Symptoms may include fatigue, mild discomfort in the upper abdomen, loss of appetite and aching joints.

Cirrhosis
This group of chronic liver diseases damages normal liver tissue and replaces it with scar tissue, reducing the amount of healthy tissue. Cirrhosis and other liver diseases cause more than 25,000 deaths each year and are the eighth cause of death in the U.S.

Fatty liver
An accumulation of fat cells in the liver is common in patients who are overweight or who have diabetes.

Hepatitis A
Eating food or drinking water contaminated with human excrement may cause this inflammation of the liver. Symptoms resemble the flu, and fatigue may occur. Fortunately, hepatitis A is rarely life-threatening.

Hepatitis B
This is one of the most serious forms of hepatitis. It is more common and much more infectious than AIDS. Chronic hepatitis B may lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Individuals can protect themselves from hepatitis B with a safe and effective vaccine.

Hepatitis C
This virus affects approximately 150,000 Americans each year. The most common risk factors include the use of intravenous drugs, a history of blood transfusions, hemodialysis, health care employment and sexual contact.

Laennec's cirrhosis
Alcohol abuse causes an irreversible liver disease that destroys healthy liver cells, which are replaced by scar tissue. This can result in liver failure. People who quit drinking in the early stage may slow progression of cirrhosis and significantly improve their liver function in six months.

Primary biliary cirrhosis
This condition causes slow, progressive destruction of the liver's bile ducts. It is 10 times more frequent in women than men and is usually diagnosed in people 30 to 60 years of age. Many patients have no symptoms and are diagnosed through the appearance of an abnormality on routine liver blood tests.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis
The bile ducts inside and outside the liver become narrowed due to inflammation and scarring. It usually begins in people between the ages of 30 and 50. Symptoms include fatigue, itching and jaundice.

Physician Spotlight


Sunil Abhyankar, MD

Clinical Focus
Blood and Marrow Transplantation

Online Health Library