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Gastroenterology. 2001 Feb;120(3):749-62.

Liver transplantation: current status and novel approaches to liver replacement.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine; and Liver Transplant Program, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California 94304-1509, USA.


The major challenge currently facing liver transplantation is the performance of a greater number of liver transplants, which has been fueled by the large and growing disparity between the increasing number of qualified patients listed for transplantation and the relatively static number of available cadaver donor organs. In the past 2 years, approximately 4500 liver transplants have been performed annually, with 1-year survival rates in the 85%-90% range, while the waiting list has expanded as of November 2000 to more than 16,000 patients, resulting in an increasing death rate among listed patients. In the short term, there will continue to be a major focus on more effective use of available cadaver donor organs to balance the competing principles of justice (patients with most urgent need for transplant and lower probability of posttransplant survival) and medical utility (patients with less urgent need for transplant and higher odds of postoperative survival). Over the long term, there will be an increasing application of novel approaches to liver replacement including cadaver split liver transplantation and adult living donor liver transplantation and possibly, in the more distant future, xenotransplantation and hepatocyte transplantation. The treatment, and ideally the prevention, of recurrent disease after liver transplantation, particularly chronic hepatitis C-the most common indication for transplantation-is a major priority to optimize the use of liver grafts. Finally, improved immunosuppressive strategies, including movement toward minimal immunosuppression and steroid withdrawal and the development of safer and more effective drugs, is another important factor that has the potential to increase the success of liver transplantation.

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