Adult liver transplantation: A UK clinical guideline – part 1: pre-operation
Liver transplantation is a highly successful treatment for all types of liver failure, some non-liver failure indications and liver cancer. Most referrals come from secondary care. This first part of a two-part guideline outlines who to refer, and how that referral should be made, including patient details and additional issues such as those relevant to alcohol and drug misuse. The process of liver transplant assessment involves the confirmation of the diagnosis and non-reversibility, an evaluation of comorbidities and exclusion of contraindications. Finally, those making it onto the waiting list require monitoring and optimising. Underpinning this process is a need for good communication between patient, their carers, secondary care and the liver transplant service, synchronised by the transplant coordinator. Managing expectation and balancing the uncertainty of organ availability against the inevitable progression of underlying liver disease requires sensitivity and honesty from all healthcare providers and the assessment of palliative care needs is an integral part of this process.
Adult liver transplantation: UK clinical guideline – part 2: surgery and post-operation
Survival rates for patients following liver transplantation exceed 90% at 12 months and approach 70% at 10 years. Part 1 of this guideline has dealt with all aspects of liver transplantation up to the point of placement on the waiting list. Part 2 explains the organ allocation process, organ donation and organ type and how this influences the choice of recipient. After organ allocation, the transplant surgery and the critical early post-operative period are, of necessity, confined to the liver transplant unit. However, patients will eventually return to their referring secondary care centre with a requirement for ongoing supervision. Part 2 of this guideline concerns three key areas of post liver transplantation care for the non-transplant specialist: (1) overseeing immunosuppression, including interactions and adherence; (2) the transplanted organ and how to initiate investigation of organ dysfunction; and (3) careful oversight of other organ systems, including optimising renal function, cardiovascular health and the psychosocial impact. The crucial significance of this holistic approach becomes more obvious as time passes from the transplant, when patients should expect the responsibility for managing the increasing number of non-liver consequences to lie with primary and secondary care.