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When is a liver transplant needed?

Cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, is the most common reason for liver transplantation. Cirrhosis may result from alcohol abuse, hepatitis B or C infection, certain autoimmune diseases, fatty liver, or certain hereditary liver diseases. Other reasons for liver transplantation include sudden liver failure or liver cancer that has not spread outside the liver.

The most common reason for a child to need a liver transplant is biliary atresia, in which the bile ducts are missing, damaged, or blocked. Blocked bile ducts cause bile to back up in the liver, causing cirrhosis.

A liver transplant can make sense when cancer or cirrhosis with complications is the diagnosis. But when cirrhosis alone is the problem, such a drastic measure probably isn't needed, as transplant surgeon Dr. Tomoaki Kato explains in this video.

Patients with symptoms of end stage liver disease may need a liver transplant.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.