Liver Disease

South Bay Gastroenterology’s Liver Clinic, is overseen by internationally renowned liver specialist, Tram Tran, MD.

Dr Tran is an internationally renowned liver specialist and was the Medical Director of Liver Transplantation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at Geffen UCLA School of Medicine. She has been triple board certified by the ABIM in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Transplant Hepatology. 

She now works as Senior Global Medical Director for Gilead Sciences in Medical Affairs focused on research for a cure for hepatitis B, global elimination of hepatitis C, and research on fatty liver disease. She maintains a specialized clinical practice at South Bay Gastroenterology. 

Dr. Tran has broad research interests in the areas of viral hepatitis B and C, liver disease in women and pregnancy and liver transplantation. She is a globally recognized speaker and has been an NIH-funded researcher in the field of chronic hepatitis B and is active in patient and community advocacy on hepatitis B prevention and treatment. She has authored and co-authored numerous abstracts, papers and books on liver disease and published in journals such as HepatologyNew England Journal of Medicine and Liver Transplantation and has served on the editorial board for Hepatology, American Journal of Gastroenterology, and Gastroenterology. 

Dr. Tran was Vice Chair and Chair of the AASLD Practice Guidelines Committee and was instrumental in developing national clinical standards for the care of liver patients. 

Liver Disease

The liver is an essential organ that has many functions. The liver serves as a filter for the body by removing toxins and impurities from the blood. The liver also performs metabolically by converting food to energy. The liver also stores the fat-soluble vitamins D and E. When diseased or damaged, the ability to perform these functions can lead to serious problems.

Types of Liver Disease

There are more than 100 types of liver diseases. Some of the most common diseases include the following:

  • Inflammation
  • Fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Liver failure
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

These diseases often develop as a result of infection, poor blood supply, an obstruction in the bile flow or from metabolic liver disease.

Symptoms of Liver Disease

Liver disease, in its earliest stages, may have little or no symptoms and will often be diagnosed as the flu. As the disease develops typical symptoms develop. The symptoms of liver disease can vary, but most often include the following:

  • Jaundice
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Brown urine
  • Itching
  • Fatigue
  • Bloody vomit
  • Black stools

A series of tests will be conducted, including biopsy, blood tests and a comprehensive metabolic panel in order to accurately diagnosis the liver condition.

Treatment of Liver Disease

Some liver diseases can be effectively treated with medication, and some serious cases may require surgery to fully treat the disease.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol. As the name implies, the main characteristic of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is too much fat stored in liver cells.

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a potentially serious form of the disease, is marked by liver inflammation, which may progress to scarring and irreversible damage. This damage is similar to the damage caused by heavy alcohol use. At its most severe, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is increasingly common around the world, especially in Western nations. In the United States, it is the most common form of chronic liver disease, affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million people.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease occurs in every age group but especially in people in their 40s and 50s who are at high risk of heart disease because of such risk factors as obesity and type 2 diabetes. The condition is also closely linked to metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of abnormalities including increased abdominal fat, poor ability to use the hormone insulin, high blood pressure and high blood levels of triglycerides, a type of fat.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a disease caused by a virus that infects the liver.  The virus, called the Hepatitis C virus or HCV for short, is just one of the hepatitis viruses.   The other common hepatitis viruses are A and B, which differ somewhat from HCV in the way they are spread and treated.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 2.7 million people in the United States have chronic Hepatitis C infection.

Auto Immune Liver Disease

Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks the liver and causes it to become inflamed. The disease is chronic, meaning it lasts many years. If untreated, it can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.

There are two forms of this disease. Type 1, or classic, autoimmune hepatitis is the more common form. This is the form that mostly affects young women and is often associated with other autoimmune diseases. Type 2 autoimmune hepatitis is less common and generally affects girls between the ages of 2 and 14.

Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is the growth and spread of unhealthy cells in the liver. Cancer that starts in the liver is called primary liver cancer. Cancer that spreads to the liver from another organ is called metastatic liver cancer. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of primary liver cancer.

About 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with primary liver cancer each year. Primary liver cancer is one of the cancers on the rise in the United States. Primary liver cancer is about twice as common in men than in women.

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