Lacerated Liver

The liver is the largest organ in the human body. It is found partially protected by the ribs on the upper quadrant of the abdomen; a part of it lies below the lower ribs. The liver is a very important organ, and one cannot live without a liver. It has a plethora of vital functions to perform and any damage can be life-threatening.

The liver removed impurities from the blood and has a great role in the regulation of blood glucose levels. It also produces bile, which helps in neutralizing stomach acids and also aids in the digestion of food. The liver is also involved in the production of amino acids and urea. This shows that the liver plays a vital role in almost every metabolic activity of the body. However, the positioning of the liver increases the risk of it getting injured or lacerated.

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Liver laceration can be defined as a cut or a tear in the liver. If the cut is very deep, laceration of the liver will result in uncontrolled bleeding, and this can be life-threatening. However, if the laceration is small and shallow, compulsory bed rest and some other conservative treatments are all that will be needed. Any case of liver laceration, whether deep or shallow, should be examined by a doctor.

Symptoms of a lacerated liver

The physical characteristic of a lacerated liver is the visible tear in the liver. There will be bleeding whether the tear is minor or major. The symptoms exhibited will be depending on the severity of the tear. The first and most noticeable symptom is the swelling of the abdomen and a lot of pain. The abdomen will be quite tender on the right side and the patient will not be able to bend over due to the extreme pain.

The right shoulder will also have some pain associated with the injury. If the laceration was caused by penetration of an external object then there will be some bleeding coming from the wound and a large bruise on the abdomen. If there is severe bleeding, then the body will exhibit some of the classic symptoms of shock, such as dizziness, low blood pressure, fast heart rate, perspiration and a weak pulse.

Causes

There are two main causes of liver laceration

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  • Blunt traumatic injury – this occurs when there is a very strong blow over the unprotected area of the liver; a strong blow to the right side of the body, just below the lower ribs may result in a lacerated liver.
  • Penetrating trauma – this occurs when a sharp object penetrates the right side of the body just below the lower ribs and goes through the liver. The sharp object may also penetrate between the ribs and injure the upper side of the liver.

Whether there is tearing of the skin or not, a blunt trauma can cause laceration of the liver; this is a type of contusion. The blunt trauma can result in the breaking of the ribs, which in turn lacerate the liver. Most times, this kind of injury is found in vehicular accidents.

When a knife or a sharp object penetrates the skin, then it may lacerate the liver since it is situated near the wall of the abdomen. The severity of the injury is usually graded from 1 to 5; Grade 1 is a very minor injury, where the outer lining of the liver is the only part that is lacerated. Grade 5 is the most severe form of liver laceration; in this case the tear is deep and affects a larger part of the liver.

Lacerated Liver – Treatment

For the doctor to know what type of treatment to prescribe, he has to know the full extent of the laceration. Whenever you have any injury to the liver, you should immediately see the doctor, even if you think that the injury is minor. The doctor will do a physical exam and get the history of the injury. The doctor will also order a CT scan or an MRI; he will also ask for a hemoglobin count.

The doctor will be able to give the proper prescription once the extent of the laceration has been determined. In cases of minor lacerations, the patient will be kept for a short while for medical observation and supervision. The doctors have to check frequently to keep abreast of the vital signs and symptoms of the injury. Once there is some notable improvement, the patient may be discharged after two to three days.

In cases of major lacerations, where there is severe blood loss, the patient will need immediate emergency medical attention. Too much bleeding from the liver into the abdominal cavity can be fatal to the patient. In some cases, severe laceration will require surgery to repair the damage.

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