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A healthy liver for a healthier life

3 Mins read
Dr. Chan Chung Yip

A healthy lifestyle is both a necessity and a privilege throughout one’s life. One must take care of the body, not overlooking any vital part, in order to sustain health. For instance, the liver, which is the biggest organ in the body, plays a vital role in maintaining a person’s overall health as it is responsible for filtering toxins from bloodstreams, bile production, regulating blood sugar levels, and creating nutrients for the body.

However, if not properly taken care of, the liver can face potential risks. According to liver and pancreas surgeon Dr. Chan Chung Yip, the liver can be damaged by various insults, including viruses, alcohol toxins, and fat in the liver.

When the liver is damaged, two types of diseases occur, namely damage to the liver substance itself and tumors resulting from the liver damage. Nevertheless, thanks to medical advancements, improved treatments in the liver, pancreas, and bile duct is possible.

For diseases that damage the liver substance, severe cases can lead to liver failure, which can only be treated with a liver transplant, which is a surgery to remove the current (damaged) liver and replace it with a healthy one. Typically, liver transplants are used for patients with end stage liver failure.

While liver transplants are an ideal treatment option, it still carries risks among patients. According to Dr. Chan, the risks of liver transplants occur in the surgery itself or from the use of immunosuppressive drugs, which are necessary during the process of liver transplantation.

“In the immediate period where you have the complications of liver transplant, we’re looking at whether the new liver is working or not. During the transplant, we need to connect the blood vessels and bile duct, and there can be complications pertaining to these connections,” he further explained.

Whereas, for tumors, because the liver is large, they do not make much noise. Thus, only when they grow larger, do they cause pain and discomfort in the abdomen. Therefore, treatments for tumors should depend on the size, location, and health of the liver. According to Dr. Chan, treatments include open or laparoscopic surgeries, ablation, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Among these treatments, laparoscopic surgery on the liver, bile duct, and pancreas is one of the technically challenging and complex procedures for surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is a type of surgery that examines and operates on organs inside the abdomen using a camera and fine instruments.

“Laparoscopic surgery has the advantage of minimal excess, the wounds are much smaller, the pain is a lot less, the recovery from the surgery is a lot better as compared to open surgery, and the cosmetic outcomes are much improved. This procedure is undertaken increasingly these days,” Dr. Chan said.

Recently, advancements in laparoscopic surgeries have been made such that the procedures are easier, faster and more precise. For instance, tools used for the surgery have improved, such as the laparoscopic instruments, energy devices, and ultrasonic dissectors, which are used to cut through the liver.

Dr. Chan also noted the recent development of video systems, which are used to visualize and analyze the procedure better. “We use 3D system to help us visualize better. With a better appreciation of the depth of the surgical field. This will allow better coordination, leading to better outcomes of the surgeries,” he said.

Treatment for the liver is complex and cannot be taken lightly, making the choice of where to undergo such treatment crucial. Among hospitals, Mount Elizabeth is renowned for specializing in liver treatment. It has a comprehensive multidisciplinary team, comprising skillful surgeons and other medical professionals specializing in care of patients with liver diseases.

In sum, maintaining a healthy liver is key towards a healthy life. Keeping a healthy lifestyle is thus necessary in protecting the liver from the risk of disease.

“The liver is an amazing organ, it’s an organ that can regenerate itself. And by looking after the liver, the liver can surpass the rest of our entire life,” Dr. Chan said.

For inquiries, please contact Mount Elizabeth Hospital’s patient assistance center located at G/F-B Marco Polo Hotel, Meralco Avenue and Sapphire Street, Ortigas Center, Pasig City 1600; e-mail manila.ph@ihhhealthcare.com or call 0917-526-7576. Follow them at facebook.com/MountElizabethHospitalsSGPhilippinesOffice.

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