A liver transplant is a surgical procedure in which a healthy liver from a deceased donor or a piece of a healthy liver from a living donor is substituted for one that is failing to function correctly (liver failure).
People with severe complications from end-stage chronic liver disease are typically the only ones who can benefit from a liver transplant as a form of treatment. In rare circumstances where a previously healthy liver suddenly fails, a liver transplant may also be an option for treatment. The largest internal organ in your body, the liver, is responsible for many vital processes.
Why it's done
A liver transplant is a medical option for certain persons with liver cancer and for those with liver failure whose condition cannot be controlled by existing treatments. Both abrupt and gradual liver failure is possible. An acute liver failure is a form of liver failure that develops quickly, usually within a few weeks. Acute liver failure is a rare illness that typically results from side effects from particular drugs.
Although a liver transplant may treat acute liver failure, it is more often used to treat chronic liver failure. Chronic liver failure occurs slowly over months and years. Chronic liver failure may be caused by a variety of conditions. The most common cause of chronic liver failure is scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). When cirrhosis occurs, scar tissue replaces normal liver tissue and causes the liver to not function properly. Cirrhosis is the most frequently reason for a liver transplant.
What tests are required before getting a Liver Transplant?
At your initial evaluation, your doctor will want to look through all of your medical files, X-rays, liver biopsy slides, operation reports, and a list of your medications. During your evaluation, some or all of the following studies are typically carried out to supplement and update earlier tests:
- Using X-rays and a computer, computed tomography (CT scan) generates images of the liver’s size, structure, blood flow, and any abnormalities. There can also be a requirement for a chest CT scan.
- Using a Doppler ultrasound, you can check to see if your liver’s blood arteries are open.
- To assess your heart, an echocardiogram and stress testing are recommended for adults.
- examinations of pulmonary function to ascertain the capacity of your lungs to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.
- Blood tests to identify blood type, assess the blood’s clotting capacity and biochemical state and assess liver function. Additionally included is serology screening, a blood test that tests for antibodies.
A few possible side effects from liver surgery include:
- Blocked blood vessels to the new liver
- Leakage of bile or blocked bile ducts
- The new liver not working for a short time right after surgery
How are candidates for Liver Transplant Determined?
Experts from a variety of disciplines evaluate liver transplant candidates. The assessment entails a review of the patient’s medical, surgical, and psychosocial past in addition to a number of tests. When assessing and choosing liver transplant candidates, many healthcare facilities use an interdisciplinary approach. The following individuals could be on this multidisciplinary healthcare team:
- Liver specialist (hepatologist).
- Transplant surgeons.
- A registered nurse with experience in caring for liver transplant patients serves as the transplant coordinator. Your primary point of contact with the transplant team will be this person.
- Please meet with a social worker to go through your financial needs, employment history, and network of friends and family.
- Psychiatrist to assist you in coping with potential side effects of liver transplantation, such as sadness and anxiety.
- Anesthesiologist, to explain any hazards associated with anesthesia.
- For those with a history of alcohol or drug problems, a chemical dependence specialist can be helpful.
- Please consult a nutritionist to assess your current nutritional situation.
After a liver transplant, you should continue to regularly engage in physical activity and exercise to maintain and improve your overall physical and mental health. As much as you can after your transplant, you should walk. Afterward, you can start including more physical activity in your regular life, depending on how you’re doing. After transplant, you can still lead a healthy, active lifestyle by engaging in your favourite physical activities including walking, cycling, swimming, low-impact strength training, and others. But before beginning or altering your post-transplant workout regimen, make sure to consult with your transplant team.
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Dr. Ujwal Zambare
MBBS, MS (General Surgery), DNB (Gastrointestinal Surgery)
Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery
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