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Why does jaundice occur?

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Medical Physics AVCE SCIENCE UNIT 15 Jaundice By Ziad Pekacar Introduction 1 Why does jaundice occur? 1 Treatment of jaundice 2 Diagnoses 2 How we shall treat our patient 3 Introduction This is a disease caused by bilirubin, which is excreted as one of the constituents of bile. Bilirubin is normally released into the blood to breakdown worn out red blood cells. The side effect of this disease is that it turns the whites of the eyes yellow and discolours the skin. A brown pigment called bilirubin, which is situated right below the outer layer of the skin, causes the colour of the skin and eyes to turn yellow. Colour changes depending on the concentration of this pigment in the certain area, or the capillaries containing a certain amount. Jaundice disease conditions have been identified as these types: (1) Obstructive (2) hepatocellular (3) haematogenous. In the obstructive type the flow of bile is blocked from the gall bladder. Hepatocellular is when the liver is damaged and is unable to remove bilirubin. Haematogenous is when a large amount of red blood cells are destroyed, so haemoglobin is produced to balance things out which also leads to a concentrated amount of bilirubin in the blood. ...read more.


To ensure the patient's dignity a male staff will carry out the imaging and the baby's parents can be present. The ultrasound image shows that my patient has jaundice. It shows the build-up of bilirubin, which is produced naturally by the body. [Refer to page five for the image] You can see from the picture that the gall bladder is swollen because it has no control on the bile it's storing and the bile ducts keep releasing bile. This expands faster than a newborn liver can break it down and get rid of it in the baby's stool. The picture shows the build-up of bilirubin round the gall bladder right under the skin. This gives the skin a yellow colour. The image signifies that my patient has obstructive jaundice, which is when the gall bladder blocks the flow of bile. This makes the bile flow out of control. This happens because of the following reasons: * A baby's liver is not yet capable of eliminating the bilirubin from the blood * More bilirubin is being made than the liver can handle * A great deal of bilirubin is reabsorbed starting from the intestines before the baby clears it in the stool Too much bilirubin will make a baby's skin look yellow. ...read more.


Nevertheless, if the patient carries on looking yellow after 3 weeks of life then other tests have to be done. Generally a lot of breastfed babies don't have jaundice that requires disruption of breastfeeding. Nonetheless, if the patient builds up jaundice that lasts a week or further, I may have to diagnose that the patient temporarily stops being breastfed for a day or two. If the mother temporarily stops breastfeeding, she can be offered breast pumping so she can keep producing breast milk and can resume nursing straight away. If there are high levels of bilirubin that don't clearout, then my patient may be treated with special lights (light therapy). These special lights help get rid of the bilirubin by altering it, this is to make it easier for my patients liver to get rid of the bilirubin. The treatment may involve that the patient stays in hospital for a couple of days. Some pediatricians treat babies with these lights at home. The treatment in this case will be carried out in the hospital and how long my patient will be tested for depends on his recovery. If the baby still has jaundice, then the parent shouldn't be too frightened. Remember that jaundice in a healthy newborn isn't severe and typically clears up with no trouble. If my patient has a very severe case of jaundice and other health problems, there will always be many other treatments. 1 ...read more.

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