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Liver Transplantation


Overview :

There are three types of liver transplantation methods. They include:

When an orthotopic transplantation is performed, a segment of the inferior vena cava attached to the liver is taken from the donor as well. The same parts are removed from the recipient and replaced by connecting the inferior vena cava, the hepatic artery, the portal vein and the bile ducts.

When there is a possibility that the afflicted liver may recover, a heterotopic tranplantation is performed. The donor liver is placed in a different site, but it still has to have the same connections. It is usually attached very near the original liver, and if the original liver recovers, the donor shrivels away. If the original liver does not recover, it will shrivel, leaving the donor in place.

Reduced-size liver transplantation tranplants part of a donor liver into a patient. It is possible to divide the liver into eight pieces, each supplied by a different set of blood vessels. Two of these pieces have been enough to save a patient in liver failure, especially if the patient is a child. It is therefore possible to transplant one liver into at least two patients and to transplant part of a liver from a living donor and have both donor and recipient survive. Liver tissue grows to accommodate its job so long as there is initially enough of the organ to use. Patients have survived with only 15-20% of their original liver, provided that 15-20% was healthy.

Availability of organs for transplant is a current crisis in the transplantation business. In October 1997, a national distribution system was established that gives priority to the sickest patients closest in location to the donor liver, but makes livers available nationally. It is now possible to preserve a liver out of the body for 10-20 hours by flushing it with cooled solutions of special chemicals and nutrients, so it can be transported across the country.




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