What Is Parenchymal Liver Disease?

Parenchymal liver disease affects the actual liver cells directly instead of those of supporting tissue, such as the bile ducts. According to Dictionary.com, the word “parenchymal” is an anatomical term that refers to the “specific tissue of an animal organ.” According to the Mayo Clinic, many conditions cause this type of liver damage, including cirrhosis, hepatitis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The liver is the largest solid organ in the body, and it performs many complex functions, according to MedicineNet. It produces important proteins, aids in digestion, helps blood to clot, and metabolizes cholesterol and glucose. Additionally, it aids in the removal of toxins from the digestive tract and the blood. Accordingly, when the liver becomes diseased from any cause, a number of symptoms result. These include nausea, vomiting, weight loss, fatigue, jaundice and pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. Usually, about 75 percent of liver function must be lost before liver function is affected and symptoms appear.

Alcohol abuse is the number one cause of liver disease in the United States, according to MedicineNet. Alcohol is toxic to liver cells, and chronic alcohol abuse causes inflammation, or alcoholic hepatitis, and eventual scarring of the liver, or cirrhosis, which causes the liver to fail. However, drugs such as acetaminophen and cholesterol-controlling drugs known as statins may also cause liver disease, especially in people who drink alcohol. Additionally, viral hepatitis causes inflammation of liver cells and may also lead to liver failure.