Liver – you all might be studied about it in school times. It is one of the most complex organs of the body that performs several essential tasks related to metabolism which include conversion of food to energy. It has a special filtering system with the help of which it removes impurities and toxins such as drugs, preservatives, alcohol, etc. from the blood. Apart from converting the food to energy, it also acts as a reservoir by storing this energy in the form of glycogen.
But when this liver develops a disease, it loses its ability to perform detoxification, metabolic and storage functions. Due to improper functioning of the liver, the whole body functioning gets affected. The branch that deals with the liver, its functioning and disease related problems is known as hepatology, and the specialists that deal with such issues are known as hepatologists. Almost all liver disorders are grouped together under the term hepatology. Some of the examples include hemochromatosis, liver cirrhosis and hepatitis. Hepatitis is one of the most common problems of liver. Liver inflammation is caused by the infection by different types of hepatitis viruses, which include hepatitis A and C virus, among others.
The most experienced and qualified doctors who have the potential to treat liver diseases are known as Hepatologists. As hepatology has no specialized board certification examination, it does not have a definite explanation. But for the doctors who are focused entirely on liver diseases, there are certain specialized training programs. These training programs are known as hepatology fellowships, which have a duration period of one to two years. Apart from this training program, a doctor also receives comprehensive training in detection and treatment of liver diseases. In this specialty training program, doctors are exposed to all liver diseases, including the rare ones and those that are seen infrequently. This severe training in liver diseases is matched rarely in a gastroenterology fellowship.
Those physicians or doctors who complete this hepatology fellowship successfully are called hepatologists. Not all but most of the hepatologists are also gastroenterologists. These are the doctors who have effectively completed both gastroenterology and hepatology fellowships.
Gastroenterologists who focus on medical practice primarily related to the diagnosis and treatment of liver diseases, but have not completed hepatology fellowship, can also be considered as hepatologists, whether they have a diploma degree in the field of liver disease or not.
It is adds an advantage to the patient if he choose a hepatologist for the treatment of the liver diseases. This virtually assures the patient that the hepatologist he is consulting has experience and expertise in diagnosis and treatment of all types of liver diseases. However, these hepatologists are the first ones to get the opportunity to learn about the latest and advanced techniques and therapies whether they are approved by FDA or are experimental. They are also the first ones to incorporate and implement them. This also adds advantage to you as get into the safe hands by consulting a liver disease specialist or hepatologist.