Enlarged liver also known as hepatomegaly is an increase in the size of your liver. The liver is a part of the digestive system which is located in the upper right quadrant of your abdomen. The liver assists in the digestive process and performs essential functions such as bile production that helps in breaking down food into energy, removal of toxins from the blood, regulating fat storage, and cholesterol production and its release.
Enlargement of the liver indicates a serious health issue. It is not a symptom that you can feel directly. Instead, your doctor discovers it during a physical examination.
Enlarged liver occurs as a result of the following conditions:
The less-common causes of liver enlargement include:
Some types of abnormal growths such as cysts and tumors that begin in the liver or spread to the liver may also lead to hepatomegaly.
Following are the factors that increase your risk of hepatomegaly:
The signs and symptoms of liver enlargement include the following:
Your doctor may initiate the diagnosis with a thorough physical examination and by taking a medical history. If your doctor suspects hepatomegaly, the following tests are ordered:
Blood tests: The blood test includes a complete blood count and evaluation of the levels of liver enzymes.
Imaging tests: An abdominal X-ray is ordered to evaluate the abdominal organs. Computed tomography scans of the abdomen and magnetic resonance imaging provide a detailed view of your abdominal organs.
Ultrasound of the abdomen: The ultrasound is used to evaluate the liver and other organs.
Liver biopsy: In the liver biopsy, a small piece of your liver tissue is removed to examine under the microscope for any abnormalities.
An increase in the size of the liver may occur due to several underlying conditions. If it is left untreated, permanent liver damage or a serious complication may occur. Treating the underlying condition may reduce the complications such as hepatic encephalopathy, hepatocellular carcinoma, portal hypertension, the spread of cancer, and the spread of infection.
Your doctor determines your liver enlargement treatment based on the underlying condition or cause.
Enlarged liver treatment options:
If the underlying condition is alcoholic hepatitis or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, then abstinence from alcohol consumption and adopting a healthy lifestyle would benefit you.
When the cause of enlarged liver is cancer, then the treatment involves chemotherapy, surgery, or liver transplant.
The risk of you having liver damage can be reduced by following a healthy lifestyle. Certain measures to reduce the complications are listed below.
Few common causes are: - Alcoholic liver disease, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Viral hepatitis (hepatitis A, B, C, D or E), Liver cancer.
If the underlying condition is alcoholic hepatitis or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, then abstinence from alcohol consumption and adopting a healthy lifestyle would benefit the patient, but in case of the enlarged liver is cancer, then the treatment involves chemotherapy, surgery, or liver transplant.