According to Dr Rajiv Ranjan, “Hepatology is a branch of medicine concerned with the study, prevention, diagnosis and management of diseases that affect the liver, gallbladder, biliary tree and pancreas.”However many don’t know the details and the specifics of this specialised branch of medicine. Following is an excerpt of an interview with Dr Rajiv Ranjan , Consultant Hepatology (The 1st and only Hepatologist in Patna)
Q1. What kind of patients need expertise from a Hepatologist?
In simple terms you can understand that a Hepatologist is a more specialised gastroenterologist. Patients that are suffering from acute or chronic liver, gallbladder, biliary tree and pancreas conditions should definitely consult a Hepatologist. Patients that are specifically suffering from liver diseases – Cirrhosis, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Fatty liver and Hepato Cellular Carcinoma, should seek the help of expert hepatologists.
Q2. What is the prevalence of patients suffering from gastro- disorders in India?
Patients suffering from gastrointestinal disorders, chronic gastro diseases and complications are very common in India. Much is to do with the Indian food with higher fat contents which contributes to the increase prevalence of obesity and its associated complications like fatty Liver. In Bihar every 1 in 10 people suffer from some gastro issues and 70% of the patients either ignore their symptoms or resort to over the counter medication and alternative medicines for management. Such callous attitude results in complicating numerous cases.
Q3. What are the common signs and symptoms that highlight that it’s time to consult a gastroenterologist or a hepatologist?
If you are suffering from any of the following, it is important that you consult a specialist at the earliest.
- Persistent pain in the abdomen
- Blood in the stools
- Sudden weight loss
- Inactivity and fatigue
- Acidity and heartburn – continuous and chronic
- Loss of appetite and inability to eat
- Nausea and vomiting on eating
If you feel that there is a sudden change in your bowel or eating habits for a period of 2 weeks, it is best that you consult a specialist.
Q4. For what all medical conditions should consult a hepatologist or a gastroenterologist?
If you or your loved one is suffering from any of the following conditions, it is best advised that a specialist handles your treatment and management. 2 in every 8 gastro cases in India face complications due to misdiagnosis by general physicians, prescription of wrong medication and also due to discontinuation of medication & diet control by the patients.
The medical conditions are:
- Peptic ulcers – Gastric ulcers, Esophageal ulcers, Duodenal ulcers
- Chronic liver disease (Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C & Fatty Liver)
- Cirrhosis, portal hypertension, variceal bleeding, ascites
- GI Bleeding (Haematemesis / Melena / Fresh Blood Per Rectum)
- Abdominal Pain
- Liver Abscess
- Liver tumors (Primary/ Secondary)
- Hydatid cysts, liver /spleen/any other organ (intra-abdominal)
- Carcinoma of gall bladder.
- Complicated Gallstone disease (Cholecysto/Choledochal duodenal Fistula)
- Choledochal cysts.
- Biliary stricture/ biliary fistulae.
- Post cholecystectomy Biliary injuries.
- Carcinoma of the head of Pancreas.