Liver Diseases (Hepatology)
Fatty Liver Diseases and Cirrhosis
Liver specialists at Duke use new imaging technologies and therapies to care for liver diseases including fatty liver diseases and cirrhosis. As national leaders in liver research, we continually seek innovations to assess the causes of liver damage, including liver scarring and fat accumulation in the liver. We help you manage your liver disease and related medical conditions.
Comprehensive Care for Liver Diseases
While it’s normal to have some fat in your liver, too much fat can lead to serious liver disease, including alcoholic fatty liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and an increasingly common condition called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Prompt treatment is needed to prevent the liver from enlarging, which can lead to the buildup of scar tissue, also referred to as fibrosis. As a result, you may develop liver failure or liver cancer.
Our gastroenterologists are hepatologists, meaning they have undergone advanced training in liver diseases and have the expertise to provide highly specialized care. We use specialized ultrasound to diagnose your condition and determine if an underlying medical problem, such as heart disease or hepatitis, may be the cause.
Choose Duke for your liver disease treatment because we offer:
- Hepatitis specialists. Our hepatologists are gastroenterologists whose advanced training allows them to specialize in diseases of the liver.
- Access to clinical trials. You may benefit from participating in our clinical trials, which are evaluating a variety of novel therapies, the effectiveness of certain antioxidants, and new diagnostic approaches. As part of the the Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) Clinical Research Network, we offer you the opportunity to participate in treatment studies that may test new therapies and help us better understand liver diseases.
- National leaders in liver research. Because of our key role, you benefit from information collected by us and other researchers that highlight promising treatments. Additionally, the NASH network directs research into treating nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which is often associated with obesity or a family history of liver disease.
- Experts in the latest diagnostic tool. We were involved in the research and development of FibroScan, and were one of the first medical centers to offer the noninvasive alternative to liver biopsy. It uses ultrasound to evaluate scarring within the liver, also known as liver fibrosis, which contributes to cirrhosis.
- Liver cancer experts. Because advanced hepatitis can progress to liver cancer, we work closely with cancer specialists to coordinate regular liver cancer screenings. If found, our experts will treat liver cancer at the earliest possible stage.
- Liver transplant assessment. If you have end-stage liver disease, our liver transplant experts will assess your condition and provide guidance on whether a transplant may be a possible treatment option.
- Weight loss management. We work closely with Duke’s weight loss nutritionists and bariatric surgeons who may recommend lifestyle changes to help you manage your condition by losing weight with diet, exercise and possibly weight loss surgery. If diabetes is a complicating factor, we work closely with endocrinologists to help you better control the disease.
Essential in treating fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis because neither drugs or surgery are proven effective. We help you make lifestyle changes that include avoiding alcohol and losing weight through diet and exercise. A consultation with a weight loss surgeon may be suggested if obesity is contributing to your disease.
Ultrasound images assess stiffness in your liver which corresponds to liver scarring.
A sample of liver tissue is taken to confirm diagnosis.
Identifies elevations in certain enzymes related to liver diseases.
May be used to confirm presence of fatty liver disease.
Measure your liver’s ability to produce protein and eliminate bilirubin, a blood waste product. Liver function tests also measure enzymes released by liver cells as a result of liver damage or disease.