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Liver Disease Information

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Glossary


Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT)

Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is an enzyme mainly found in the liver. The ALT test measures the level of ALT in the blood. Consistently high levels of ALT can be a sign of liver swelling or injury.

Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP)

Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP) is an enzyme found in in large amounts in your liver, bile ducts, and other parts of your body. The ALP test measures the level of ALP in your blood. High levels of ALP can be a sign of liver or bile duct damage.

Antibody

An protein in the blood that is made by the body to fight germs such as viruses or bacteria. Antibodies can be a result of receiving a vaccine or coming into contact with a virus. They protect the body against future infections.');" onmouseout="exit();">antibody is a protein in the blood that is made by the body to fight germs such as viruses or bacteria. Antibodies can be a result of receiving a vaccine or coming into contact with a virus. They protect the body against future infections.

Ascites

Ascites is the build up of fluid in the abdomen that can occur with liver failure, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Aspartate Transaminase (AST)

Aspartate Transaminase (AST) is an enzyme found in large amounts in the liver and other parts of the body. The AST test measures the level of AST in the blood. High levels of AST can be a sign of liver damage.

Autoimmune

Autoimmune is an immune response by the body against its own tissue, cells, or molecules. In people with autoimmune disease, their immune system may attack the same cells that it is supposed to protect.

Autoimmune hepatitis

Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic (long-term) liver disease in which the immune system attacks the liver.

Bile

Bile is a liquid made in the liver that helps break down fats and other nutrients.

Bile ducts

Bile ducts are tubes that drain the bile from the liver into the intestine.

Biliary atresia

Biliary atresia is a rare disease of the bile ducts that affects infants. In babies with biliary atresia, the bile ducts become blocked soon after birth.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a type of fat found in blood.

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is extensive scarring of the liver -- hard scar tissue replaces soft healthy tissue. Severe scarring of the liver can prevent the liver from functioning well.

Clinical trial

A clinical trial is a medical research study conducted to find answers to health questions. Clinical trials often are conducted to evaluate new medications, combination of medications, or new ways to use current treatments. Also, clinical trials are conducted to evaluate new tests, equipment, and procedures for diagnosing and detecting health conditions and to find vaccines to prevent illnesses.

Computerized tomography (CT) scan

A CT scan is an imaging test that uses x-rays to get detailed pictures of the body.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body cannot use glucose (a type of sugar) normally.

Edema

Edema is the build up of fluid in the legs that can occur due to liver failure, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.

Enzymes

Enzymes are protein cells that help important chemical reactions to occur in the body.

Fatty liver disease

See nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Fibrosis

Fibrosis is the initial scarring of the liver.

Gastroenterologist

A gastroenterologist is a doctor who specializes in the study of digestive organs including the liver.

Genetic

Genetic refers to something that is related, caused by or affected by genes.

Genotype

A hepatitis C virus.');" onmouseout="exit();">genotype is the genetic makeup of a cell, an organism, or an individual. In the study of liver diseases, the term genotype is used often to describe different strains of hepatitis C virus.

Hemochromatosis

Hemochromatosis is a genetic condition in which the body stores too much iron and the iron builds up in the liver.

Hepatic Encephalopathy (HE)

Hepatic encephalopathy is a brain disorder that is caused by liver damage.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis means “inflammation of the liver”.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B and hepatitis C, it does not become chronic (long-term). ');" onmouseout="exit();">hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV causes the liver to swell and prevents it from working well. HAV is passed from person to person through fecal matter. Most often it is transmitted because of poor hand washing after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, or before preparing and eating food. Unlike hepatitis B and hepatitis C, it does not become chronic (long-term).

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV causes the liver to swell and prevents it from working well. HBV is passed from person to person through bodily fluids such as blood, semen, or vaginal secretions. Most often it is transmitted through sexual contact or from an infected mother to her infant during birth.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV causes the liver to swell and prevents it from working well. HCV is passed from person to person by blood. It is most often transmitted when a person’s blood comes into direct contact with infected blood.

Hepatocellular carcinoma

See liver cancer.

Hepatologist

A hepatologist is a doctor who specializes in the study of the liver.

Interferon

Interferon is a protein used by the body to fight infection. It is prescribed as an injected medication for people with hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

Jaundice

Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin and white part of the eyes.

Liver

The liver is the second largest organ in your body. It processes what you eat and drink into energy and nutrients your body can use. The liver also removes harmful substances from your blood.

Liver biopsy

A liver biopsy is a medical procedure used to remove a small piece of liver tissue that is studied in the lab to determine the liver’s condition.

Liver Cancer

Liver cancer is the growth and spread of unhealthy cells in the liver.

Liver cysts

Liver cysts are abnormal sacs filled with fluid in the liver.

Liver failure

Liver failure is the inability of the liver to function and perform its jobs.

Liver function tests

Liver function tests help check the liver’s health and detect liver damage. These blood tests measure the levels of certain proteins and enzymes in the blood.

Liver transplant

A liver transplant is the process of replacing a sick liver with a donated, healthy liver.

Living-related liver transplantation

A living-related liver transplantation is the transplantation of a portion of a healthy person’s liver to a person with advanced liver damage.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan

A MRI scan uses magnetic waves to obtain images of the liver or other organs.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the build up of extra fat in liver cells that is not caused by alcohol.

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a severe form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease that causes the liver to swell and become damaged.

Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC)

Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a long-term liver disease that slowly destroys bile ducts in the liver.

Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC)

Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a long-term liver disease that slowly damages the bile ducts in the liver.

Protein

Proteins are large molecules that make sure the body’s organs function properly.

Ribavirin

Ribavirin is an oral medication that is prescribed together with interferon for some people with hepatitis C.

Steroids

Steroids are medications prescribed to treat diseases caused by overactivity of the immune system such as autoimmune liver disease.

Sustained virologic response (SVR)

Sustained virologic response (SVR) is a person’s successful response to antiviral medications when a virus is not present in the blood six months after treatment is completed.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in blood.

Tumor

A tumor is an abnormal growth of cells that form a lump.

Ultrasound

An ultrasound is an imaging technique that uses waves to see inside views of the body.

Vaccine

A vaccine is a medication that stimulates the production of antibodies to protect against a specific disease.

Viral load

A viral load is the amount of a virus, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus, in the blood.

Wilson disease

Wilson disease is a genetic condition in which the body stores too much copper and the copper builds up in the liver.

Page updated: January 14th, 2011