Jaundice

"Jaundice is caused by an increase in the concentration of bilirubin in the blood".

DR. DELIA D'AVOLA
SPECIALIST. HEPATOLOGY UNIT

Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes due to increased concentration of bilirubin in the blood.

There are other reasons why the skin may take on a yellowish color; these can be distinguished from jaundice because they do not involve the yellowing of the conjunctiva of the eyes.

The Hepatology Unit of the University of Navarra Clinic has more than 25 years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of liver diseases.

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What are the symptoms of jaundice?

Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes.

In some cases, jaundice may be accompanied by coluria (urine that is very dark in color due to the presence of bilirubin in the urine) and acolia (stools that are very light in color due to the absence of bilirubin-derived pigments).

The most common symptoms are:

  • Yellowing of the skin.
  • Coluria.
  • Acolia.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

You may suffer from jaundice

What are the causes of jaundice?

Bilirubin is a waste product of hemoglobin, which is the main content of red blood cells. This bilirubin is transformed in the liver and transported through the bile duct to the small intestine and is eliminated in the feces.

Therefore, jaundice can occur when there is an increased rate of red blood cell destruction (hemolysis), in liver diseases (both acute hepatitis and chronic liver diseases such as cirrhosis) and in diseases where there is an obstruction of the bile duct (the most common causes are gallstones and tumors of the bile duct or pancreas).

In addition, there is a group of diseases in which there is an isolated alteration in the metabolism of bilirubin, without affecting other functions of the liver; the most frequent of these is Gilbert's disease, in which there is usually slight jaundice, without this causing a limitation in survival or quality of life.

What is your prognosis?

In adults, increased levels of bilirubin in the blood have no major consequences, but in some chronic liver diseases, it can be an indication of poor liver function.

In the child, alterations of the nervous system can occur, which can become serious.

Who can suffer from it?

Neonatal jaundice occurs in half of all healthy newborns (and is more frequent in premature infants). It is due to an immaturity of the bilirubin transformation mechanisms in the liver and does not usually last more than two weeks after delivery.

In adults, jaundice should be considered only as a symptom of disease, with no negative consequences per se.

How is jaundice diagnosed?

<p>Imagen de tubos de análisis de sangre del Laboratorio de Hematología de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra&nbsp;</p>

The diagnosis of jaundice is based on the physical examination of skin and membrane colouring, especially that of the eyes. In addition, a blood test for bilirubin is performed.

In some cases, jaundice may be accompanied by coluria (urine of a very dark color due to the presence of bilirubin in the urine) and acolia (faeces that are very light due to the absence of bilirubin-derived pigments).

In the newborn, jaundice is an objective clinical sign characterized by yellowish skin, conjunctiva (white of the eyes) and mucosa.

How is jaundice treated?

In adults, jaundice should be considered only as a symptom of disease, without negative consequences in itself. Therefore, treatment should not be for jaundice, but for the disease that causes it.

In the newborn child, if bilirubin levels are very high, it is indicated to interrupt breastfeeding, phototherapy (exposure to light) and, if necessary, blood exchange.

Where do we treat it?

IN NAVARRE AND MADRID

OUR MEDICAL TEAM

Specialists of the Hepatology Unit

We are pioneers in the application of gene therapy in the treatment of liver tumors and hereditary metabolic diseases, and we have extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis and in the treatment of liver cancer using radioembolization systems with Ytrium-90 microspheres. 

The Clinic is at the forefront in Spain in performing liver transplantation between living people.

Treatments we perform

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Why at the Clinica?

  • Highly specialized team of professionals with more than 25 years of experience.
  • Nursing team specialized in hepatic patients.
  • Important research activity on the molecular mechanisms that cause some of these diseases.

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