Who Needs a Liver Transplant and What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

The liver is one of the vital organs in the human body. This essentially means that one cannot live without the liver. It serves many critical functions in the body that include metabolism of drugs and toxins, removing degradation products and synthesis of important proteins and enzymes.

The blood enters the liver in two channels – the hepatic artery and the portal vein. They bring nutrients and oxygen to liver cells. These are also known as hepatocytes and bile ducts. Blood leaves the liver via the hepatic veins and drains into the inferior vena cava and immediately enters the heart. The liver is also responsible to make bile which is a liquid that helps dissolve the fat. Each hepatocyte creates bile and the bile ducts take it to the hepatic duct that transports the bile to the intestine.

Who needs a liver transplant?

A liver transplant is a process by which a failing liver is surgically replaced with one that is normal and healthy. A liver transplant is the only cure for a failing liver. Here are some of the conditions that may require a liver transplant:

Acute liver failure

Acute liver failure occurs when an originally healthy liver suffers a massive injury. There are a number of other reasons that can lead to liver inefficiency. Sometimes viral infections can also be a cause of liver failures. The onset of skin yellowing is the first sign of liver disease.

Signs and symptoms of decompensate liver disease

Gastrointestinal bleeding

As the liver becomes scarred, the resistance to portal blood flow increases and pressure builds up on the portal venous system.

Fluid retention

One function of the liver is to synthesize many proteins of the proteins that are circulating in the blood stream including albumin. Albumin and other proteins in the blood retain fluid in the vascular space by exerting pressure. The low levels of albumin forces the fluid out of the blood stream. This fluid cannot be reabsorbed. This fluid accumulates in the tissues of the body and the body cavities. The most common areas where it accumulates are the abdominal area. The fluid can also accumulate in the legs and the chest cavity. This fluid retention is limited by dietary salt intake and medications. Intermittent drainage through insertion of a needle into the abdominal or chest cavity is also a possible treatment.

Encephalopathy

Failure of liver to clear ammonia and other toxins from the blood allows these type of toxins to accumulate. This results in cognitive dysfunction that ranges from disturbed sleep and mild infusion of coma too.

Jaundice

It is a known fact that one of the main functions of liver is to eliminate the degradation products of haemoglobin. Bilirubin is one of the products that is excreted by the lever. When the liver fails, this bilirubin is not excreted from the body and the levels in the blood stream increase. The blood and other tissues of the body appear yellow in color.

People with any of these conditions must immediately be treated for liver either by medication or by a transplant as suggested by the doctor.

by Sejal Kakadiya

 

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