The typical yellow colouration which gave its name to this disease is the result of the transfer of bile components, firstly into the blood and then into the conjunctiva of the eye and other tissues. Jaundice is a sign of disease which can occur in various conditions. It becomes visible as soon as the bile pigments in tissue exceed a certain concentration. It is first visible in the eyes.
Jaundice may be classified on the basis of the site of the trigger, which may lie before the liver, within the liver or after the liver. Alternatively, the classification may be based on the cause of the illness. 5 different forms are distinguished:
1. Production jaundice: when the production of the bile pigments is raised.
2. Transport jaundice: abnormalities in the transport of the bile pigments
3. Conjugation jaundice: abnormalities in the metabolism of the bile pigments
4. Excretion jaundice: abnormalities in the excretion of bile ducts, e.g. in inflammation of the liver, liver cirrhosis, inflammation of the liver from alcohol or drugs, pregnancy, or after taking certain drugs.
5. Obstructive jaundice: abnormal bile transport from partial or total occlusion of the bile ducts, e.g. in cancer of the bile duct, gallstones or inflammation of the bile ducts. The bile products formed in the liver are then unable or hardly able to drain into the gut and therefore pass into the blood.
Diagnosis: Clinical chemistry: Probes of Liver Function, with determination of the liver values. Imaging procedures: Ultrasound investigation of the liver, perhaps X-ray of the bile ducts.
Accepted symbol J; unit of work, energy and warmth, named after the English physicist James Joule (1818-1889). Nutritional value is also given in Joules (mostly in kJ; 1 kJ = 1000 J; earlier in cal for calorie; 1 J = 0.239 cal).
Glossary entries: Roche and Walter de Gruyter, Berlin
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