Liver Transplant (cont.)

How are candidates for liver transplant determined?

Evaluations by specialists from a variety of fields are needed to determine if a liver transplant is appropriate. The evaluation includes a review of your medical history and a variety of tests. Many healthcare facilities offer an interdisciplinary approach to evaluate and to select candidates for liver transplantation. This interdisciplinary healthcare team may include the following professionals:

  • Liver specialist (hepatologist).
  • Transplant surgeons
  • Transplant coordinator, usually a registered nurse who specializes in the care of liver-transplant patients (this person will be your primary contact with the transplant team).
  • Social worker to discuss your support network of family and friends, employment history, and financial needs.
  • Psychiatrist to help you deal with issues, such as anxiety and depression, which may accompany the liver transplantation.
  • Anesthesiologist to discuss potential anesthesia risks.
  • Chemical dependency specialist to aid those with history of alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Financial counselor to act as a liaison between a patient and his or her insurance companies.

Which tests are required before getting a liver transplant?

You will need to bring all of your previous doctor records, X-rays, liver biopsy slides and a record of medications to your pre-evaluation for a liver transplant. To complement and to update previous tests, some or all of the following diagnostic studies are generally performed during your evaluation.

  • Computed tomography, which uses X-rays and a computer to generate pictures of the liver, showing its size and shape.
  • Doppler ultrasound to determine if the blood vessels to and from your liver are open.
  • Echocardiogram to help evaluate your heart.
  • Pulmonary function studies to determine your lungs' ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.
  • Blood tests to determine blood type, clotting ability, and biochemical status of blood and to gauge liver function. AIDS testing and hepatitis screening are also included.

If specific problems are identified, additional tests may be ordered.

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