Cirrhosis is a chronic disease that causes the progressive destruction of liver hepatocytes. Cirrhosis is due in most cases to alcoholism, or the inflammation of the liver (hepatitis). Cirrhosis can also be secondary to other diseases (Wilson's disease, hemochromatosis ...) or certain medications.
At an advanced stage, the liver cells are no longer functional and the body suffers from the missing functions that are normally carried out by this body.
At the beginning of the disease, there are few symptoms that are suggestive of cirrhosis. Signs of liver cirrhosis include:
- hepatomegaly (increase the size of the liver);
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes);
- weight loss;
- the formation of ascites (fluid located in the abdomen);
- occasionally, gastrointestinal bleeding.
A liver transplant is considered in the following cases:
- certain cases of liver cancer;
- cirrhosis causing a severe impairment of liver cells;
- cirrhosis due to hepatitis (B or C in general).
The diagnosis of cirrhosis is confirmed after a biopsy (of liver cells). Liver function tests (blood tests) come back with skewed results. A liver transplantation is prescribed by a physician (usually a gastroenterologist), depending on the tests, and at a point when the liver is hardly functional. It is at an advanced stage of the disease, as assessed by different clinical and biological exams scored with the Child-Pugh scale, that a transplant will be considered.
The transplant is generally performed after a long process. One needs to find an organ donor that is compatible with the recipient. A liver transplant is a major surgery, because the new liver must be implanted into the receiver. The main risk after surgery is rejection. An immunosuppressive therapy is administered after the intervention to minimize this risk.
Original article published by
. Translated by Jeff