Liver Transplant Surgery Procedure

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Liver Transplant Surgery Operating Room Procedure

written by: Emjay Annavi Baclay • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 7/27/2010

For a patient who has been advised to undergo liver transplantation, knowledge on the details of the liver transplant surgery operating room procedure will help him go about the process of making an informed choice, not to mention lowering anxiety levels and eradicating the fear of the unknown.

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    Liver Transplant Surgery Operating Room Procedure

    The preceding steps before the actual procedure entail the patient to go to a pre-operative nursing unit. The nurse will review the patient’s chart and ensure that all paperwork is organized. Before any anaesthesia-related medication is given, and before the liver transplant surgery begins, verifications will have to be established.

    Both the donor and recipient are led to their respective operating rooms, which are generally adjacent to each other. Preparative measures are done, such as taking of vital signs, preparation of the skin for surgery, and administration of anaesthesia. This phase may last for 2 hours prior to the actual surgery.

    Surgery is started, which normally lasts for at least 6 hours. Initial measures include monitoring the patient’s heart and blood pressure, inspecting the donor liver, and creating markings for the structures that need to be connected as the surgery takes place. After the initial inspection and monitoring, the liver transplant surgery progresses as the surgeon performs an incision on the rib cage area and sometimes including the abdominal area. Once the abdominal cavity is opened, the surgeon uses certain tools to cut the four blood vessels connected to the liver, and makes use of clamps to impede blood flow that is being supplied to the liver. The liver is then detached from connecting arteries and veins, and finally removed.

    The donated liver is placed on the same position as the recipient’s. Next step would be to connect the recipient vessels to donor vessels. The bile duct, a tube used for draining the liver of bile, of the donor liver will also be connected to the bile duct of the recipient patient’s liver. The blockade that was earlier used to hinder blood flow is removed in order for the flow to resume. This phase warrants close monitoring towards the healthy liver to see if the donated organ is functioning as it should.

    Once the new organ’s functionality has been ensured, the surgeon removes the clamps applied to the chest cavity, and then proceeds to use surgical staples on the incision. These staples will be retained for at least 2 weeks. It must be noted that liver transplant surgery operating room procedure may vary from one hospital to another, but these are the typical parts of the process.

    After the surgery has ended, post-operative measures take place, which focuses on the patient’s rest period for a couple of days.

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    The Surgical Team

    Each patient has his own set of surgical team to attend to him, consisting of the surgeon, transplant coordinator, hepatologist, nurses, and medical technicians that will work together to ensure that the liver transplant surgery operating room procedure flows smoothly.

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    Preservative Measures for the Donor Liver

    Prior to being positioned and finally placed into the recipient’s body during the procedure, the donor liver tissue is removed by the surgeon from a specialized ice packaging. The donated liver is stored in cooled saline solution for the purpose of preserving it for up until 8 hours. This preservation method is a crucial part of the liver transplant surgery operating room procedure because it allows key medical people to carry out tests that ensure the required and necessary match of the donor’s liver to the recipient.

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