When you are diagnosed with gallstones, hepatitis, or cirrhosis of the liver, it’s doubtful that you are thinking of the whole system of which the liver and gallbladder are only single parts. While these are hardly insignificant parts, it may be helpful to understand that they are important cogs in a machine known as the hepatobiliary system. This system is essential for digestion and includes the liver, pancreas, bile ducts and the gallbladder.
Several ailments (hepatobiliary disease) can affect this system. Hepatobiliary disease includes a varied group of diseases of the liver and biliary system caused by viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections, cysts and tumors, toxic chemicals, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, metabolic disorders, and cardiac failure. The two predominant diseases of the liver in the United States are viral hepatitis and cirrhosis; the predominant chronic disease of the biliary system is gallstones (cholelithiasis).
The liver is one of the largest organs in the human body and has many functions including:
- Processing food and changing it into energy
- Breaking down toxic substances in the body
- Storing iron reserves, as well as vitamins and minerals
- Creating bile, which aids in digestion
The pancreas is an organ behind the stomach and in front of the spine. The two primary functions of the pancreas are to produce fluids to help break down food and to produce hormones that help control blood sugar levels.
The biliary tract consists of the gallbladder and duct system. After being produced by the liver, bile is secreted into the bile ducts and stored in the gallbladder. Bile aids in the digestion of fats.
Often hepatobiliary diseases require surgery as part of treatment. Dr. Matthew Johnson is a Las Vegas Board Certified Robotic Surgeon, specializing in hernia surgery, foregut surgery, and hepatobiliary surgery. He also cares for patients in the fields of general surgery, trauma & acute care surgery, and critical care. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Johnson to discuss your robotic surgery options, call his clinic at (702) 369-7152.