Pre-transplant evaluation of the recipient includes an exhaustive list of investigations which includes ;
- Blood tests: Blood group, Complete blood count, liver function tests, renal function tests, tumor markers, and various viral markers.
- Radiological tests: Chest X-ray, abdominal ultrasonography, liver doppler, CT scan and/or MRI, and HRCT chest in some cases
- Evaluation for Preoperative fitness: Tests for cardiac and pulmonary fitness for surgery
Some patients may require specific investigations like auto-immune markers, tests for Wilson’s disease, and others. Patients are also evaluated by other specialists like Cardiologist, Pulmonologist, Gynaecologist (for female patients), Anesthetist, and Psychiatrist. In case of a living donor transplant, the donor also needs to be evaluated like the recipient.
What medicines are given to the patient after undergoing Liver transplant?
A patient is put on multi-drug immunosuppression regimen after transplant. These medicines are tapered over a period and generally, after 1 year, only one drug (Tacrolimus) is supposed to be taken. This medicine must be taken lifelong in most cases.
What is the initial duration of post-transplant period?
A patient needs to be in the hospital for 2-3 weeks after liver transplant in most cases. This includes an ICU stay of approximately 5-7 days. Patient is ambulated generally by 2nd- 3rd postoperative day. He/she is allowed liquids by 2nd to 3rd postoperative day and solids by 4th-5th postoperative day. The surgical stitches are removed generally by 2-3 weeks.
What is the routine for Follow-up visits post Transplant?
A patient needs to come for regular follow up visits post discharge. These visits are initially frequent (weekly). As the patient recovers from the surgery, the follow-up visits become less frequent. After 3-6 months, the visits are scheduled at 3–6-month interval which is to be followed life-long. Some blood tests are done during these follow-up visits and an abdominal ultrasound is generally advised at 6–12-month intervals.
What is the Long-term survival rate of Transplant?
The overall success rate of liver transplant is somewhere between 90-95%. The estimated 1-year survival is 85-90% and 5-year survival after liver transplant is more than 70%. A person can have a normal quality of life after liver transplant. He/she can resume the normal job activities, work out in a gym, and can pursue any sports activities. He/she can marry, can have normal sexual life, and have kids.
There is no shelf-life of a transplanted liver. If a person takes medicines regularly, carries out all tests regularly and follows the medical advice, he/she can have a normal life span, with good quality.
What Medicines are given to the patient after liver transplant?
A common complication after liver transplant is rejection of the grafted liver by the recipient’s immune system. To prevent this, certain medicines are needed to suppress the recipient immune system. These medicines are called immunosuppressants.
These medicines are initially given in combination after transplant, usually 2-3 drugs. Over the time, they are reduced in number and dose. After 1 year, only one or two drugs are continued for life. The commonly used immunosuppressants are steroids, Tacrolimus, Cyclosporine, Mycophenolate Moxetil, Everolimus and Sirolimus. These medicines need to be taken, as prescribed by the doctor, and cannot be stopped or modified without doctor’s advice.