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1. What are the symptoms of liver disease? When to see a doctor?
Most of the liver diseases present with similar symptoms with some variations. Some of the common symptoms can be loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, vomiting of blood, jaundice(yellowish discoloration of the eye), abdominal pain, itching, distension of abdomen( accumulation of fluid- ascites), swelling of lower limbs, weight loss, altered sensorium, confusion, and in a late stage- coma.
2. Can liver disease be prevented?
Liver is a crucial body organ which is responsible for processing essential nutrients from the food you eat, synthesizing bile and most importantly removing harmful toxins from the system. To ensure that your liver keeps performing its functions, you need to follow a healthy lifestyle.
Some of the liver diseases are metabolic and hence inherent at the time of birth and manifest later. However, some of the more common liver diseases are preventable like alcohol induced liver disease, fatty liver induced liver disease (NAFLD), Hepatitis A, B and C.
3. What is liver transplantation? What is the average cost of liver transplantation?
Liver transplantation is the treatment for end stage liver disease in both adults and children. In this operation, the diseased liver is removed and replaced by a healthy one. The success rate for the operation is high and terminally ill patient can return to normal lives.
The average cost of liver transplantation is Rs 18 to 20 Lakhs at Sahyadri specialty hospital, Pune Maharashtra. The cost of investigations of the donor and recipient is Rs 90,000. When patients are too sick and require prolonged stay following liver transplantation, the cost of treatment can escalate; hence it is advisable to patients to have the liver transplantation before they develop complications secondary to the liver disease (Cirrhosis).
Most of the patients seek help at a very late stage or referred late to a Surgeon. It is advisable for patients to seek the opinion of a Surgeon at a very early stage of the disease. The patient needs to take medicines for the rest of his life to prevent rejection of the new liver. The cost of medicines and the investigations in the first year is approximately Rs 10-15000/-. The number of medicines and the frequency of blood investigations are much less after the first year of liver transplantation.
The cost of liver transplantation in India is one-twentieth when compared to USA, UK and other European Countries.
4. When should a liver transplant be performed?
When a person’s liver is severely damaged and cannot function properly or complications may develop and liver transplantation should be considered. Conditions like hepatic coma, massive upper gastrointestinal bleeding, and liver cancer is the best treated by complete removal of the liver (cirrhotic liver).
In general, when a patient needs a new liver, the earlier the operation, the higher the success rate is.
Urgent liver transplantation is recommended in patients who have acute liver failure and this could be due to many reasons. The common conditions are Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E and drug induced. In such patients, liver transplantation is urgently needed in order to save the life of the individual.
5. What are the advantages/benefits to the recipient of getting a living donation vs cadaver?
A new liver can come from either of the two sources: A living donor or a brain-dead deceased donor.
Living donor transplantation:
It is technically feasible to remove part of the liver from a living person and transplant it to a patient who needs a new liver. The operation has now been done since 1989. Depending on the size matching of the donor and recipient, either the left side (about 35-40%) or the right side (60-65%) of the liver will have to be removed. The liver remnant in the donor will grow to its original size in 6-8 weeks time.
This process helps in an earlier transplantation before the recipients’ conditions deteriorates. It is a planned procedure whilst cadaver liver transplantation is an emergency procedure. It avoids the risk of death while waiting for a deceased donor liver graft(40% overall and 75% for patients in Intensive care units). The survival rate of a living donor transplant is over 90%.
There are risks like complications of the investigations and surgical procedures but the possibility of donor death rate is of 0.2-0.5%. Seventeen donor deaths have been reported in Brazil, France, Germany, Egypt, Hong Kong, Japan, USA and India.
This is well established in the Europe and USA. Unfortunately, the availability of deceased donor liver is not very often in India. Depending on your blood group, you may have to wait for 0 to 6 months before you get a new liver.
During this waiting period, you may develop complications like spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (infection of the fluid in the abdomen) which, if repetitive may produce severe adhesions in your abdomen rendering liver transplantation difficult if not impossible.
It is important for everyone to register for organ donation, so that when we die, this noble act will help many people to lead normal lives. In the Western world the organ donation rate is between 15-18/million population where as in Indi it is less than 1/million.
6. Who can be a suitable living donor?
The most important criteria is that the donation of portion of the liver is done voluntarily. The donor has to be less than 50 years of age, body mass index of less than 25 and is a near relative of the recipient. Both the donor and the patient should have the same Blood group or O Blood group.
Besides, the potential donor should understand clearly that
- The donor operation carries complication rate of 10-15%.
- The recipient is successful in 90-95%, which means that there is 5-10% chance of dying.
- The donation is done out of his/her own wish and without any coercion.
- There is no financial gain related to the act of donation.
- The donor has the right to withdraw at any time without the need of giving any reasons to do so.
7. Which patients are excluded from liver transplantation procedure?
Patients who have cancer in another part of the body, active alcohol or illegal drug abuse, active or severe infection in any part of the body, serious heart, lung or neurological conditions or those who are unable to follow doctors’ instructions are excluded generally.
8. What are the risks to the recipient from the surgery?
The overall success rate of liver transplant is over 94% and the majority of recipients can return to normal activities and achieve 95% of their quality of life which they had prior to liver disease. Since the recipients’ body may reject the new liver, it is essential for them to take immunosuppressive medications and continue follow up at the liver transplant clinic. They will need to continue these medications for life, at a reducing dosage.
The risk for the recipient is the return of the original problem that necessitated the liver transplant in the first place, e.g. hepatitis C, recidivism (return to alcoholism), noncompliance of medications. The other complications that can arise are thrombosis of blood vessels going into or out of the liver, primary or delayed graft non-function, bile duct complications, renal failure and other infections.
9. What are the side effects of having a liver transplant?
After a successful liver transplantation (95% of patients) – the patient is advised to take care of infections and to take anti-rejection medicines for life. The patient can return to normal quality of life and can return back to work in three months time. The patient has to regularly follow up with the surgeon in the first year and later at regular intervals as advised by his doctor. He will require blood tests to determine that his liver functions and to adjust his medications in the beginning and later the tests are infrequent. The patient is advised not to take any herbal or alternative drug treatment.
The transplant patient is assessed regularly for various complications like rejection, infection, narrowing of blood vessels etc., and appropriate treatment is initiated. Post transplantation, he is under the guidance of his doctor throughout his life. Any health problems that do come up have to be investigated and treated, though they are infrequent.
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What is Bone cancer?
Bone cancer is malignant tumour of the bones which can spread to lungs or other parts of the body. It may have arisen primarily from the bone itself (primary bone cancer) or more commonly, may have spread to the bones (secondary bone cancer) from cancer of some other body organ like Breast cancer, Prostate cancer etc.
Primary bone cancer usually occurs in growing children and young adolescents, whereas, secondary bone cancer usually occurs in older age group. Usually, the patient experiences pain in the affected area, which over the time, gets worse and continuous. There may also be swelling in the involved region. It can cause weakening of bones resulting in fracture. Some patients may attribute these symptoms to any prior antecedent trauma. Unintentional weight loss may also be seen. Sometimes, these patients are wrongly being treated for infection, thus delaying the correct treatment which may have a bearing on the final outcome.
How common is bone cancer?
Secondary bone cancer is the most common type of bone cancer with bone being the third most common site of cancer spread (metastasis) from other organs. However, primary bone cancers are rare accounting for less than 1% of all cancers.
Causes of bone cancer?
There are no known environmental or other hereditary factors which cause bone cancer, however, certain patients are at a greater risk for bone cancer which include:
- Patients who have received prior radiation therapy
- Patients with a history of Paget’s Disease
- Patients with hereditary retinoblastoma - a type of eye cancer that most commonly affects very young children
- Patients with Li-Fraumeni syndrome - a rare genetic condition
How is it diagnosed?
A patient suspected with bone cancer needs to be investigated thoroughly with blood tests, Xrays, MRI to look for local extent of disease. Since bone cancer can spread to lungs and other bones, staging of the disease is done either with whole body PET CT or a bone scan with CT Chest. Alongwith that, a biopsy (usually with a needle) is required to establish the diagnosis. It’s important to do biopsy from the correct site since wrong biopsy site can be detrimental in limb salvage and can result in amputation (cutting the limb). Therefore, it’s recommended that the biopsy should always be done by the surgeon (Orthopaedic Oncologist) who will be doing the final surgery for bone cancer.
Treatment of bone cancer is a multidisciplinary approach requiring an Orthopaedic Oncologist (Bone & Soft tissue tumour specialist), Medical Oncologist (Chemotherapy Specialist), Radiation Oncologist (Radiotherapy specialist) and Pathologist (Specialist in tissue diagnosis).
Usually in primary bone cancers, chemotherapy is given to the patient followed by surgery to remove the diseased bone which is further followed by adjuvant chemotherapy. Limb salvage surgery is possible nowadays for bone cancers in which the part of the bone involved with tumour is removed surgically (rather than cutting the whole limb) and the defect is reconstructed with artificial joint, thereby saving the limb. In some cases, the cancerous bone so removed is given very high dose of radiation so as to kill all the cancer cells and the sterilised bone so formed is fixed back to the parent bone with the help of plates and screws, a technique commonly called as Extra Corporeal Radiation Therapy (ECRT). In children, since the artificial joint will not grow as the child grows leading to unequal limb lengths over a period of time, the defect can be reconstructed with expandable joint which can be lengthened as the child grows which allows to maintain limb length equality at the time of skeletal maturity.
Is cure possible in bone cancer?
With the current chemotherapy regimes and advanced surgical technology, cure is possible in upto 70-75% patients with primary bone cancer. In patients with secondary bone cancer, cure can still be achieved depending upon the primary cancer and the extent of disease. In advanced cases also, a lot can be done to control the disease and give a quality of life to the patient.
Is it possible to prevent bone cancer?
Since the exact cause of bone cancer is not known, as of now it’s not possible to prevent bone cancer.
Whom to consult?
First chance is the best chance when it comes to curing bone cancers. So, it’s advisable to seek treatment from a trained Orthopaedic Oncologist when confronted with a bone cancer to achieve maximum beneficial outcome.
Many women develop uterine fibroids by the time they hit the age of 50 years and above. These are non-cancerous growths that may occur in the uterus. Most women go through severe bleeding and pain as well as discomfort as a result of these fibroids. Age, family history of the same condition, obesity or being overweight, eating habits and even ethnicity play a large role in deciding the risk of each individual patient. These fibroids can grow in the submucosal, intramural and subserosal areas.
Following are the common side effects of uterine fibroids:
- Frequent urination: Due to the pressure of the fibroids on the uterus, the patient may experience a constant feeling of fullness in the lower pelvic area of the body, which may lead to frequent filling of the bladder. This gives rise to frequent trips to the washroom for urination.
- Heavy Bleeding: Severe bleeding is one of the most common causes of the presence of these kinds of fibroids. The patient may experience a lot of bleeding during menstrual periods, as well as pain and cramps the rest of the time. The periods will also be very painful when there are fibroids in the uterus or the uterine lining.
- Painful Intercourse: It is a well-known fact that any kind of infection or growth as well as sores and other such ailments can lead to vaginal dryness as well as pain during sexual intercourse. This is true for uterine fibroids as well, which can lead to severe pain during sexual activity. These fibroids can also give rise to pain in the lumbar or lower back region.
- Abdomen Swelling: The abdomen may go through significant swelling in such a condition and the patient may even look like she is pregnant. The growth can push the shape of the abdomen outwards and create a full feeling.
- Pregnancy Complications: The presence of uterine fibroids can give rise to several complications during pregnancy and even after child birth. One of the most common problems in this case is bleeding, followed by more severe outcomes like miscarriage. The women suffering from uterine fibroids are at greater risk of undergoing a caesarean section for the delivery of the baby. The baby may also be born breech and a premature delivery may take place.
- Infertility: This is also a rare side effect of the uterine fibroids and is generally seen only in very severe cases.
- Cancer: Only one in every 1000 cases might transform into malignant tumours. These uterine fibroids are generally known to be non-malignant.
Any symptoms must be reported to a gynaecologist at the earliest to avoid any serious complications.
The womb or the uterus is a muscular structure that is fixed in its place by the ligaments and the pelvic muscles. If these ligaments or muscles become weak or stretch, they no longer will be capable of holding the uterus, resulting in a prolapse. Uterine prolapse happens when the uterine slips or sags from its usual position into the birth canal or vagina. The main indications of uterine prolapse are recurrent bladder infections, constipation, a tug at the pelvic area, the cervix or uterus protruding out of the vagina, problems during sexual intercourse, increased discharge and vaginal bleeding.
What causes it?
1. Age is the most important reason for this condition to manifest itself.
2. A dip in the estrogen level as this hormone keeps the pelvic muscles strong.
3. Damage to the pelvic tissues and muscles due to pregnancy or during childbirth can also contribute to this condition.
4. A woman who has undergone multiple vaginal births is at an increased risk of this condition.
5. Any physical activity that exerts pressure on the pelvic muscles can also result in this disorder.
6. Chronic constipation and obesity, over time, can lead to this disorder.
How it can be treated?
1. Nonsurgical methods:
- Shedding the extra kilos helps reduce stress from the pelvic structures. This helps to avert this disorder.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects throughout the course of the treatment.
- Pelvic floor exercises or Kegel exercises help build up the vaginal muscles.
- Estrogen replacement therapy or Hormone Replacement Therapy can help relieve the symptoms of this disease.
- Wearing a pessary (an instrument that is placed into the vagina and fits under the cervix) helps to push up and stabilize the cervix and the uterus.
2. Surgical treatments:
- Uterine suspension- In this case, the surgeon inserts the uterus back into its former position by reattaching the pelvic ligaments by the use of surgical techniques.
- Hysterectomy- Here, the surgeon removes either the whole or just a part of the womb.