This article is about the branch of internal medicine. For the compound literary or narrative work, see heptalogy. For the study of amphibians, see herpetology. For the journal, see Hepatology (journal).
Names Doctor, Medical Specialist
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Education required
Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
Fluoroscopic image of common bile duct

Hepatology is the branch of medicine that incorporates the study of liver, gallbladder, biliary tree, and pancreas as well as management of their disorders. Although traditionally considered a sub-specialty of gastroenterology, rapid expansion has led in some countries to doctors specializing solely on this area, who are called hepatologists.

Diseases and complications related to viral hepatitis and alcohol are the main reason for seeking specialist advice. More than 2 billion people have been infected with Hepatitis B virus at some point in their life, and approximately 350 million have become persistent carriers.[1] Up to 80% of liver cancers can be attributed to either hepatitis B or Hepatitis C virus. In terms of mortality, the former is second only to smoking among known agents causing cancer. With more widespread implementation of vaccination and strict screening before blood transfusion, lower infection rates are expected in the future. In many countries, though, overall alcohol consumption is increasing, and consequently the number of people with cirrhosis and other related complications is commensurately increasing.

Schematic diagram of Hepato-biliary system

Scope of specialty

As for many medical specialties, patients are most likely to be referred by family physicians (i.e., GP) or by physicians from different disciplines. The reasons might be:


Dr. B Blumberg, Awarded Nobel prize 1976 for discovery of Hepatitis B virus

Evidence from autopsies on Egyptian mummies suggest that liver damage from parasitic infection Bilharziasis was widespread in the ancient society.[2] It is possible that the Greeks may have been aware of the liver's ability to exponentially duplicate as illustrated by the story of Prometheus. However, knowledge about liver disease in antiquity is questionable. Most of the important advances in the field have been made in the last 50 years.

The word hepatology is from Ancient Greek ἧπαρ (hepar) or ἡπατο- (hepato-), meaning "liver", and -λογία (-logia), meaning "study".

Disease classification

1. International Classification of Disease (ICD 2007)/ WHO classification:

2. MeSH (medical subject heading):

3.National Library of Medicine Catalogue (NLM classification 2007):

Also see Hepato-biliary diseases

Important procedures


  1. "WHO | Hepatitis B". Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  2. Rosalie David A, Contis G (1996). "Paleopathology on schistosomiasis in Egyptian mummies". Parasitol. Today (Regul. Ed.). 12 (4): 167. doi:10.1016/0169-4758(96)80811-8. PMID 15275234.
  3. http://classics.mit.edu/Hippocrates/aphorisms.mb.txt
  4. "History of Liver, Gallbladder, and Spleen". Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  5. 1 2 H S.J. Lee, ed. (1999). Dates in Gastroenterology: A Chronological Record of Progress in Gastroenterology over the Last Millennium (Landmarks in Medicine). Informa Healthcare. ISBN 1-85070-502-X.
  6. Moodley J; Singh B; Lalloo S; Pershad S; et al. (2001). "Non-operative management of haemobilia". The British journal of surgery. 88 (8): 1073–6. doi:10.1046/j.0007-1323.2001.01825.x. PMID 11488792.
  7. "Victor Charles Hanot (www.whonamedit.com)". Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  8. "eMedicine - History of Pediatric Liver Transplantation : Article by Beth A Carter, MD". Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  9. "History of Liver Transplantation". Archived from the original on August 30, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-08.
  10. STARZL TE; MARCHIORO TL; VONKAULLA KN; HERMANN G; et al. (1963). "Homotransplantation Of The Liver In Humans". Surgery, gynecology & obstetrics. 117: 659–76. PMC 2634660Freely accessible. PMID 14100514.
  11. "Baruch S. Blumberg - Autobiography". Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  12. 1 2 http://www.hcvadvocate.org/hepatitis/factsheets_pdf/Brief_History_HCV_10.pdf
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