Some patients might have an irreversible liver disease, but not enough to warrant a transplant, whereas others might be too ill to benefit from a transplant. This assessment can be best made by doctors who specialize in liver diseases i.e. liver transplant surgeons and Hepatologists.
Signs and symptoms of liver disease, and results of some blood tests are commonly used to determine severity of liver disease, which, in turn, determine the treatment required. There are certain scoring systems that indicate the severity of the liver disease. These are the Child-Pugh-Turcotte (CTP) Score, CTP Class (A, B, or C) and Model for End Stage Liver Disease (MELD) Score, and PELD Score. A high score will mean an early transplant, and a low scoring patient may not require a transplant. Patients whose liver disease is affecting other organ systems such as kidney, lungs and brain, may also need an early transplant.
Patients with liver cancer are often diagnosed through routine screening tests such as ultrasound, CT scan or MRI. They might require an early transplant despite not suffering a severe underlying liver disease.
Transplantation will not be offered to patients with current alcohol abuse problems, those with uncontrolled active infections, widespread cancer or severe, untreatable disease of the brain, heart or lungs.
What are the signs and symptoms of liver disease?
Unfortunately patients with cirrhosis feel normal until End Stage Liver Disease sets in, when the following symptoms may develop:
If there is mild liver damage a patient may not experience any of these symptoms and could be treated with medication or therapy. If the above symptoms occur, it is called decompensation, and is indicative of poor or inadequate liver function, or failure of medical therapy. Some symptoms are more serious than others. Fever, blood vomiting and mental confusion are the symptoms that need to be treated immediately.
Unfortunately by the time patients undergo tests and are diagnosed with liver problems, they already have advanced chronic liver disease with limited reserve and short life expectancy.