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Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - VCU Advanced Liver Program opening new outpatient clinics
The VCU Medical Center’s Advanced Liver Program is extending its reach, opening outpatient locations around and beyond Richmond. Earlier this year, the program opened a clinic in Fredericksburg and partnered with HCA Virginia Health System to open another clinic at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital Parham Campus; two more outpatient clinics will open in the West End and Colonial Heights in early 2012.

“We recognize that there’s a significant need for hepatology expertise in the community,” said Dr. Richard Sterling, chief of the Section of Hepatology. “To address the needs of patients and referring providers, we’re coming to them.”

The nationally and internationally known hepatologists of the Advanced Liver Program provide outpatient care for all forms of liver disease, including viral hepatitis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis and advanced liver disease. Services for liver transplants and liver cancer will continue to be offered at the VCU Medical Center in downtown Richmond.

One out of every 10 Americans is affected by liver disease, according to the American Liver Foundation. About one-fourth of adults in the U.S. suffer from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, the buildup of fat in liver cells.

The disease is closely linked to cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, and liver cancer, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, two of the leading causes of death in the U.S. Because people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and other liver diseases, including hepatitis B and C, don’t always experience symptoms, diagnosis often comes when chances to reverse the damage are slim.

“There is a national initiative to try and identify chronic liver disease early when it is more treatable and more reversible,” explained Dr. Arun J. Sanyal, chair of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. “The only way to do that is to increase awareness of liver disease, institute preventive strategies and make it possible for those diagnosed with liver disease to be treated. By improving access to care for patients in our community, we’re making it easier for patients to receive the best possible liver care.”

VCU’s Advanced Liver Program is involved in cutting-edge research that allows its doctors to translate scientific discoveries into practice, bringing new treatment tools to the patient. The program participates in Food and Drug Administration-supervised clinical trials that involve progressive treatments, benefitting patients with the latest advances in liver care.

“There have been a lot of advances in the field of hepatology over the past 10 years,” Dr. Sanyal said. “One of our missions is to translate scientific advances to patient care as quickly as possible, so ultimately the people for whom these treatments are being created can benefit as quickly as possible. We can provide access to treatments that are otherwise not available in the community, all of which have better outcomes than existing treatments.”

The Advanced Liver Program uses a multidisciplinary approach to treating liver disease, relying on a number of specialists — endocrinologists, lipidologists, surgeons, interventional radiologists and therapeutic endoscopists — to provide expertise in creating comprehensive treatment plans.

Call (804) 828-4060 to schedule an appointment or for more information.
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