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Liver Transplants

Liver transplantation has become a standard therapy for adults and children with severe liver disease. The treatment is highly successful, with more than 80 percent of patients going on to live as long-term survivors. The quality of life of long-term survivors is excellent, with the majority returning to productive activities. Surgical improvements have decreased the chance of dying from surgical complications to less than 5 percent, while improvements in immunosuppression have decreased the risk of losing the graft due to rejection to less than 5 percent. These results are possible because of the development of specialized care teams and the application of rigorous patient care protocols, both in the hospital and for the long term. Full integration of community physicians and gastroenterologists is essential for long-term success. This leads to early diagnosis and management of rejection and other complications.

The Procedure

The doctor will make an incision shaped like a boomerang on the upper part of the abdomen. The old liver will be removed. The doctor will leave portions of major blood vessels in place. The new liver will be inserted and attached to the blood vessels and bile ducts. Occasionally, to help with bile drainage, a tube will also be inserted into the bile duct during surgery. The doctor will then close the area with stitches.

Liver transplant surgery can take from 4-6 hours.

Possible Complications

If you are planning to have a liver transplant, your Swedish transplant surgeon will review a list of possible complications. Some possible complications may include:

  • Rejection of the transplanted liver
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Damage to nearby organs
  • Bile-duct obstruction or bile leakage into the body
  • Complications from immunosuppressive drugs
  • Blood clots
  • Some factors that may increase the risk of complications from a liver transplant include:
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Alcoholism
  • Diabetes
  • Poor Nutrition
  • Recent or long-term illness
  • Serious heart, lung, or kidney disease
  • Use of certain medicines
  • Cancer
  • Current infection