Experts Call for Early Detection & Treatment to Curb Rising Cases of Liver and Gastric Diseases in Eastern India

In response to the escalating prevalence of liver and gastric diseases in Eastern India, Manipal Hospital Old Airport Road, Bengaluru organized an interactive session on 24th January in Kolkata. The session on ‘The Horizon of Liver & Gastric Care Transforming Life’ featured prominent healthcare experts, Dr. Rajiv Lochan J, Lead Consultant – HPB, Liver Transplantation & Robotic Surgery, and Dr. K Hemanth Kumar, Consultant – Surgical Gastroenterology, GI Oncology, HPB, & Robotic Surgery from Manipal Hospital Old Airport Road, Bengaluru. Emphasizing early detection and treatment of liver diseases, the experts highlighted the urgent need for awareness and education to combat the alarming rise of liver-related deaths.

The liver, is the largest organ in the body that performs over 500 vital functions, including bile formation, protein synthesis, glycogen storage, nutrient metabolism, and detoxification. Liver deaths, primarily due to cirrhosis, acute liver failure, and liver cancer account for over 2 million global deaths annually, with India contributing a staggering 268,580 deaths per year (3.17% of all deaths).

Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Rajiv Lochan J stressed the importance of early diagnosis and treatment, and said, “Liver diseases are rising alarmingly across all age groups. Contrary to the popular belief that liver diseases are common in adults or in those who consume alcohol, several liver conditions affect the paediatric age group as well, and not all liver diseases are due to alcohol.” Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), affecting nearly two billion people globally, has emerged as a leading cause of chronic liver disease and the primary indication for liver transplantation. In India, the NAFLD is mainly driven by factors such as lack of exercise, high carbohydrate based diet in addition to the metabolic syndrome – diabetes and abnormal lipid profile in our population, posing a concerning health threat and burden. In India it is estimated that 1 in 3 adults have NAFLD.

Dr. Rajiv Lochan J further highlighted that liver cancer often remains unnoticed until the liver is significantly damaged. He strongly recommended regular screening for hepatitis B and C, along with lifestyle modifications and routine check-ups, as they can remain silent until the liver becomes severely damaged.

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Sharing more insights on other gastrointestinal problems Dr. K Hemanth Kumar emphasized the link between pancreatic diseases and liver problems. He said, “many patients suffer from gallbladder and pancreatic disease, with gallbladder and bile duct stones being the most common. Chronic pancreatitis, a condition where stones form in the pancreas, is also prevalent in the region, and its treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach, which our team is well-equipped to provide. Therefore, it’s crucial to investigate patients with persistent symptoms to diagnose the underlying cause and provide timely treatment of stones. Failure to do so may lead to severe complications like jaundice and sepsis.”

Speaking further Dr. K Hemanth Kumar also shed some light on the advancements in surgical technology in gastrointestinal surgeries. He spoke in detail about the three types of surgeries, the conventional open surgery, the key-hole surgery or laparoscopic surgery, and the newest advancements, the robotic surgery (also known as robotic assisted surgery). He emphasized that robotic surgery by-passes the constraints and challenges of conventional and key-hole surgeries and provides excellent patient outcomes. He said, “robotic assistance in liver and gastrointestinal surgeries has revolutionized surgical landscape. It provides advanced dexterity and enhanced 3D magnified view of the surgical site, which enables the surgeon to even access the difficult areas which weren’t achievable by the other two methods. Also, with robotic surgery, there is no need for larger incisions, hence is less painful with faster healing and reduced risk of infections at the site of incision.”

Both experts strongly emphasized the significance of raising awareness about liver and gastric diseases, early detection, and treatment with a multidisciplinary approach to the success of treating liver and other gastrointestinal diseases. Dr. Rajiv Lochan J further highlighted the comprehensive liver care services at Manipal Liver Care Unit. He said, “The Manipal Liver Care Unit has a 94.5% success rate and has performed 63 liver transplants in the last year alone. We are the first and only hospital to offer robotic donor hepatectomy (where the donated portion of the liver is removed through small incisions using a robot) and we are the largest living donor liver transplant unit in Karnataka. The unit is equipped with the latest robotic-assisted technology and has highly experienced and trained specialists, including hepatologists, intensivist anesthesiologists, surgeons, nurses, and technicians.”

The interaction concluded with a call to raise awareness about organ donation to meet the increasing demand for liver transplants. Manipal Liver Care Unit encouraged brain-dead donations and highlighted living liver donation as a safe and effective option for healthy individuals to contribute to those in need.

In the ongoing battle against Gastric and liver diseases, Manipal Hospital Old Airport Road, Bengaluru stands as a beacon of hope, providing state-of-the-art liver care services and fostering a commitment to early detection, treatment, and organ donation.