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Dr George Webster, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist at The Physicians’ Clinic, comments on new promise for those with advanced liver disease, but early assessment is the key

April 30, 2018

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43808461

Liver transplantation is often the only treatment option available for patients with advanced chronic liver disease (cirrhosis). Not all patients are suitable candidates for this treatment, but even for those who are, 20% will sadly die before a transplant is available. This is often due to a lack of available transplant organs (which are from patients who have just died). Even when a liver has become available for transplantation, and the patient is prepared to receive it, the operation may need to be cancelled because of poor condition of the donor liver. Traditionally donor livers have been kept on ice to preserve their function, during the hours before being used. However, a new study has shown that keeping the liver 'warm', rather than 'cold', and infusing fluid and nutrients through the liver, may maintain function, so providing more, and healthier, livers for transplantation

Despite promising progress in liver transplantation there is no doubt that when considering advanced liver disease (cirrhosis) the phrase "prevention is better than cure" could not be more appropriate. Cirrhosis is mainly caused by alcohol, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and hepatitis viruses. Huge advances have been made in the treatment of hepatitis C over the last 5 years, with more than 96% of patients cured with a course of tablets. Life-style advice and medical help may significantly reduce the risks of alcohol and NAFLD leading to cirrhosis. The vital step is to catch the problem early, as symptoms usually develop only at a very late stage of chronic liver disease. Straightforward, non-invasive tests are used by the liver specialists at The Physicians' Clinic to assess your liver health, and provide expert advice and ongoing care for those with all types and stages of liver problem.

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