Information for Patients
Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons.
There are many kinds of liver diseases:
- Diseases caused by viruses, such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C
- Diseases caused by drugs, poisons, or too much alcohol. Examples include fatty liver disease and cirrhosis.
- Liver cancer
- Inherited diseases, such as hemochromatosis and Wilson disease
Symptoms of liver disease can vary, but they often include swelling of the abdomen and legs, bruising easily, changes in the color of your stool and urine, and jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes. Sometimes there are no symptoms. Tests such as imaging tests and liver function tests can check for liver damage and help to diagnose liver diseases.
Your spleen is an organ above your stomach and under your ribs on your left side. It is about as big as your fist. The spleen is part of your lymphatic system, which fights infection and keeps your body fluids in balance. It contains white blood cells that fight germs. Your spleen also helps control the amount of blood in your body, and destroys old and damaged cells.
Certain diseases might cause your spleen to swell. You can also damage or rupture your spleen in an injury, especially if it is already swollen. If your spleen is too damaged, you might need surgery to remove it. You can live without a spleen. Other organs, such as your liver, will take over some of the spleen's work. Without a spleen, however, your body will lose some of its ability to fight infections.