Before patients become liver transplant candidates, the Penn Liver Transplant Team performs an extensive evaluation of their liver disease and general health to determine if transplant is the right option.
Patients whose livers do not function well due to life-threatening problems may be candidates for a liver transplant. A number of studies must be completed during and prior to the evaluation visit at the Penn Transplant Institute. These tests include:
- Chest X-ray
- Abdominal doppler ultrasound to evaluate blood vessels going to and from the liver
- Pap smear and mammogram, for female patients
- Blood tests
- Urine test
- Cardiac evaluation
During the evaluation visit, patients and their families meet with members of the transplant team including a transplant nurse coordinator and receive detailed information about transplant preparation, health management during the waiting period, anti-rejection medications and an overview of the transplant process. Patients see a transplant hepatologist, a doctor who specialized in liver diseases, and sometimes a transplant surgeon to discuss their medical history, receive a physical examination, and to describe the different options for liver transplant.
Patients are also encouraged to consider living-donor transplantation since it offers the best chance of success and survival.
In addition, patients meet with a financial coordinator to ensure they have adequate insurance coverage for the procedure and medications. Other members of the liver transplant team including the social worker and nutritionist may meet with patients and their families as well.
The liver transplant team meets weekly to determine whether transplant is the best treatment option for every patient evaluated. A member of the transplant team then contacts the patients with the results of this discussion. If the transplant team decides that liver transplant is the best option and patients agree, patients are "listed for transplant."