Liver transplant - Overview
Hepatic transplant; Transplant - liver
Definition of Liver transplant:
Liver transplant is surgery to replace a diseased liver with a healthy liver.
The donated liver may be from:
- A donor who has recently died and has not had liver injury. This type of donor is called a cadaver donor.
- Sometimes a healthy person will donate part of his or her liver to a patient. This kind of donor is called a living donor. The liver can regrow itself. Both people usually end up with fully working livers after a successful transplant.
The donor liver is transported in a cooled salt-water (saline) solution that preserves the organ for up to 8 hours. The necessary tests can then be done to match the donor with the recipient.
The diseased liver is removed from the donor through a surgical cut in the upper abdomen. It is placed into the patient who needs the liver, and attached to the blood vessels and bile ducts. The operation may take up to 12 hours. The patient will have to receive a large amount of blood through a transfusion.
Why the Procedure Is Performed:
When your liver is healthy it performs more than 400 jobs each day, including:
- Making bile, which is important in digestion
- Making proteins that help with blood clotting
- Removing or changing bacteria, medications, and toxins in the blood
- Storing sugars (glycogen), fats, iron, copper, and vitamins
The most common reason for a liver transplant in children is biliary atresia.
The most common reason for a liver transplant in adults is cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver that prevents the liver from working well. It can worsen to liver failure. The most common causes of cirrhosis are:
Other illnesses that may cause cirrhosis and liver failure include:
Liver transplant surgery is not recommended for patients who have:
- Certain infections, such as tuberculosis or osteomyelitis
- Difficulty taking medications several times each day for the rest of their lives
- Heart, lung, or liver disease (or other life-threatening diseases)
- History of cancer
- Infections such as hepatitis that are considered to be active
- Smoking, alcohol or drug abuse, or other risky lifestyle habits
- Reviewed last on: 5/4/2010
- David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Ahmed A, Keeffe EB. Current indications and contraindications for liver transplantation. Clin Liver Dis. 2007;11:227-247.
Martin P, Rosen HR. Liver transplantation. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2010:chap 95.
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