The liver is the body's second largest organ, located in the upper right-hand portion of the abdominal cavity.
The liver performs many essential functions which include filtering the blood coming from the digestive tract, playing an active role in the process of digestion through the production of bile, and metabolizing carbohydrate, lipids, and proteins into biologically useful materials.
The liver provides storage of many essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals obtained from blood passing through the hepatic portal system, and it functions as an organ of the immune system.
The liver metabolizes toxins and drugs and makes proteins important for blood clotting and other functions. Without the liver, the body tissues would quickly die from lack of nutrients and energy.
Luckily, the liver has an astonishing ability to regenerate dead or damaged tissues, which may grow as quickly as a cancerous tumor to restore its normal size and function.
However, although being a robust and resilient organ, there are many different conditions that can affect the proper functioning of the liver, and that can be fatal if left untreated.
The liver disease can be caused by inflammation such as hepatitis that can have a virus or other non-infectious origin, genetic factors, autoimmune diseases, allergic reactions, long-term alcohol consumption, obesity, malnutrition, acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose, and more.
Most liver conditions initially present with very few symptoms. This, combined with the liver's ability to function even when damaged may be responsible for the fact that a great share of liver conditions remains undiagnosed until it is too late to repair and treat it successfully.
But once diagnosed, knowing how to treat and manage the liver disease is essential. The healthcare teams must provide the best possible care to the patients, which depends on what caused the liver disease.
Hence, it is important that all hepatologists, gastroenterologists, and internal medicine specialists who treat patients with liver disease are able to make informed clinical decisions at the point of care.
Mobile apps, such as iLiver can be helpful. Developed by the European Association for the Study of the Liver back in 2012, the iLiver app provides a detailed medical information and clinical recommendations for 26 different types of liver disease to medical experts who treat patients with liver problems.
The app is available in four languages, including English (default), Spanish, Russian, and Chinese.
Users can choose to register upon opening the app in order to receive iLiver updates, or skip this step and proceed to the main page, which may take some time to load.
As said, the main page contains 25 different types of liver disease, ranging from acute liver failure to hemochromatosis to portal hypertension and Wilson's disease, with the addition of 11 pediatric conditions.
There is also a separate section called Pediatric liver disease which contains the reviewed and updated information and clinical recommendations on common live conditions in pediatric patients provided by pediatric hepatologists and gastroenterologists.
iLiver app is easy to navigate. With a tap on the screen, users can open each disease and view its definition, as well as detailed information about the clinical presentation, diagnosis, differential diagnosis, a clinical course with complications, and management and therapy.
Information is presented in a textual format in a concise manner and it is supported by illustrations and images (for example, the radiology or histology findings in Diagnosis), as well as the tables and charts.
There are therapy guidelines provided for each disease that explain general measures, specific measures, and drugs used for the treatment.
The content of the app is well-referenced with direct links to online resources.
Some of the content, however, isn't available, displaying the message 'This section is empty' upon opening. I believe that these, empty sections would be populated in future updates.
iLiver app also provides the access to more than 50 different scores, available in a form of algorithms and medical calculators, such as BiLE, SIRS, Clichy criteria, and more, which are available via Scores tab at the bottom of the screen, or via related condition.
Users can also use search to look up for conditions, which has the autocomplete feature that, however, displays too broad results.
The app content, such as conditions and all of their separate segments (diagnosis, management, therapy) can be bookmarked and accessed via Favorites tab.
Finally, the More tab contains two sections, About and Notifications, which contain information about the app, as well as allow users to view notifications about the recent updates. As been said, updates are available only to registered users and they require an Internet connection.
Overall, iLiver app is a great free comprehensive resource of medical information related to liver disease. It also works well as a clinical-decision support tool that many healthcare providers who treat patients with liver conditions would find useful.
Benefit: The app would be useful to hepatologists, gastroenterologists, and internal medicine specialists