Digestive Diseases: Liver Transplantation

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What Complications Are Associated With Liver Transplantation?

Two of the most common complications following liver transplant are rejection and infection.


Your immune system works to destroy foreign substances that invade your body. The immune system, however, cannot distinguish between your transplanted liver and unwanted invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. Therefore, your immune system may attempt to attack and destroy your new liver. This is called a rejection episode. About 25% of all liver-transplant patients have some degree of organ rejection prior to discharge. Anti-rejection medications are given to ward off the immune attack. More than 80% of transplanted livers are still functioning at the end of the first year.


Because anti-rejection drugs that suppress your immune system are needed to prevent the liver from being rejected, you are at increased risk for infections. This problem diminishes as time passes. Not all patients have problems with infections, and most infections can be treated successfully as they occur.

What are antirejection medications?

After the liver transplant, you will receive medications called immunosuppressants. These medications slow or suppress your immune system to prevent it from rejecting your new liver. They may include azathioprine (Imuran), Cellcept (mycophenolate mofetil), prednisone (Deltasone, Kedral, Medrol, Orasone, Prelone, Sterapred DS), cyclosporine (Neoral), Prograf (a brand of tacrolimus, also known as FK506), and Rapamune (sirolimus). You must take these drugs exactly as prescribed for the rest of your life.

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