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A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M.; 2013.

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

Liver transplant - series

Last reviewed: May 1, 2012.

Normal anatomy

The liver is in the right upper abdomen. The liver serves many functions, including the detoxification of substances delivered to it from the intestines, and the synthesis of many proteins.

Normal anatomy

Indications

A liver transplant may be recommended for:

Indications

Incision

Liver failure causes many problems, including malnutrition, problems with blood clotting, bleeding form the gastrointestinal tract, and jaundice. Frequently, patients who undergo liver transplantation are quite ill, and require hospitalization in the Intensive Care Unit prior to surgery. A large, upper abdominal transverse incision is used for liver transplant.

Incision

Procedure

Liver transplants are performed in many centers across the country. The healthy liver is obtained from a donor who has recently died but has not suffered liver injury. The healthy liver is transported in a cooled saline solution that preserves the organ for up to 8 hours, thus permitting the necessary analysis to determine blood and tissue donor-recipient matching. The diseased liver is removed through an incision made in the upper abdomen. The new liver is put in place and attached to the patient's blood vessels and bile ducts. The operation can take up to 12 hours to complete and requires large volumes of blood transfusions.

Procedure

Aftercare

Patients require hospital care for one to four weeks after liver transplant, depending on the degree of illness. After liver transplantation, patients must take immunosuppressive medications for the rest of their lives to prevent immune rejection of the transplanted organ.

Aftercare

Review Date: 5/1/2012.

Reviewed by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. 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. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

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  • Fact sheet: Stem cell transplantation in the treatment of cancerFact sheet: Stem cell transplantation in the treatment of cancer
    There are three main types of treatment for cancer: surgery, medication (chemotherapy and/or hormone therapy) and radiotherapy. You may also have heard of a treatment called bone marrow transplantation, also called blood stem cell transplantation (stem cell transplantation for short) or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. This type of stem cell transplantation is mainly used to treat various forms of leukemia (or leukaemia).
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