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Pediatric Liver Disorders

What are liver disorders?

Several conditions that can affect a child's liver from functioning properly. The liver is part of the hepatobiliary system (liver, gallbladder, bile ducts). 

The liver is an organ in our GI system with functions to: 

  • metabolize hormones, drugs, and cholesterol
  • remove harmful substances from our blood
  • produce factors that help our blood clot in case of injury

What are symptoms associated with liver disease?

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Right upper quadrant pain
  • Itching
  • Vomiting blood
  • Clay colored stools
  • Easy bruising or bleeding

How are liver disorders diagnosed?

  • Evaluation by the Pediatric Gastroenterologist
  • Blood tests
  • Radiology tests such as US abdomen, MRCP
  • Liver biopsy

How are liver disorders treated by Golisano Pediatric Gastroenterology?

Liver disorders may have many underlying causes including infectious (viral hepatitis B and C), genetic (Wilson’s disease, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, lysosomal acid lipase deficiency), environmental (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, drug induced liver injury), anatomic (choledochal cyst, portal vein thrombosis) and autoimmune (autoimmune hepatitis). 

Non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) related to obesity is the most common diagnosis. Patients may present with abnormal blood tests (most commonly elevated liver enzymes), which signify that there is some element of damage to the liver due to fat deposition. Children may also have conditions such as insulin resistance and high choelsterol. Others may present with abnormal radiology findings such as fat on the liver. 

Initial evaluation may include obtaining additional blood tests or imaging in addition to counseling on diet/exercise. This is frequently done in conjunction with our nutritionist or pediatric endocrinologists. 

Our goal is to prevent progression of liver disease to a more advanced state known as fibrosis or cirrhosis, which is a more permanent scarring over the liver. We monitor these conditions with blood tests, imaging, medications, and surgery, if needed. 

Our specialists also work collaboratively with our colleagues at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida including nutrition specialists, pathologists, radiologists,  and surgeons in the diagnosis and treatment process.