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Medical Terms Made Easy

Here are some definitions of medical terms that can help you understand your liver a little better:

  • Alpha-fetoprotein: Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is a protein produced by liver cells, normally found only in traces in the body. The AFP blood test is helpful in diagnosing liver cancer.
  • Biliary atresia: Biliary atresia is congenital condition in which there is a blockage in the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder.
  • Cholestasis: Cholestasis is a condition in which the flow of bile from the liver is blocked. Cholestatis could occur due to a tumor in the bile duct, cysts, narrowing of the bile duct or stones in the common bile duct.
  • Drug-induced hepatitis: Drug-induced hepatitis is the inflammation of liver caused by physician-prescribed medications, over-the–counter medications, vitamins, hormones, herbs, illicit (recreational) drugs and environmental toxins.
  • Hemochromatosis: Hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder that results from excessive accumulation of iron (iron overload) in the body.
  • Liver cirrhosis: Cirrhosis, characterized by scarring of liver and poor liver function, is the end result of chronic liver damage caused by chronic liver disease.
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma: Hepatocellular carcinoma, also known as malignant hepatoma, is liver cancer that could be caused by alcohol abuse, autoimmune disease of the liver, hepatitis B or C virus infection, chronic inflammation of the liver or iron overload in the body.
  • Hepatitis: Hepatitis is the inflammation of liver caused by infections from viruses (hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E virus), liver damage from alcohol or toxins, or certain medications.
  • Hepatomegaly: Hepatomegaly is the enlargement of the liver beyond its normal size due to infection, parasites, tumor, anemia, storage diseases toxic state, congenital heart disease, heart failure and metabolic disturbances.
  • Hypercoagulable state: Hypercoagulable state is a condition wherein there is an abnormally increased tendency toward blood clotting. This is due to malfunctioning of clotting factors in the liver.
  • Liver biopsy: Liver biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of the liver is removed for the diagnosis of abnormal liver conditions.
  • Liver transplantation: Liver transplantation is surgery performed to remove a diseased liver and replace it with a healthy one from a donor. The most common reasons for liver transplantation are biliary atresia and cirrhosis.