Complications That Might Occur During A Liver Transplant

by Akash Sharma Akash Sharma
The common treatment for end-stage liver disease is orthotropic liver transplantation (OLT). The advancements in technology have definitely refined the process, but the operation remains a challenging procedure. Immunologic and donor factors influence the operation process. Age (older than 60), cardiac or pulmonary disease, renal failure, diabetes and malnutrition may affect the survival of the patient. Following are the possible complications of liver transplant.


A liver transplant patient is susceptible to various infections and should take diligent care to avoid them. Especially, those who showcase liver cancer symptoms and their treatment is going on.  The doctor may prescribe a course of antiviral, antibiotic and antifungal medication as a precaution. The course may stretch on for a few months after the transplant to lessen the risk. The immunosuppressant medication weakens the immune system and makes one vulnerable to infection. The symptoms include fever, headaches, diarrhea and muscle ache.


One in every three people finds that their body rejects the new liver. The immune system affects and stops the liver functions. Symptoms such as high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, low energy level, abdominal pain, jaundice, pale stools, dark urine and itchy skin suggest that the body has rejected the liver. However, it can be managed by changing the immunosuppressant medicine dosage.

Kidney Failure

Kidney failure is a side effect of immunosuppressant medication and affects up to one in every three patients of liver transplant. The kidneys are unable to carry out their functions and the waste materials are no longer filtered. Tiredness, swollen ankles or other body parts, shortness of breath, feeling sick and blood in the urine are some of the symptoms of kidney disease. Doctors usually monitor kidney function levels in accordance with the immunosuppressant medicine to avoid kidney failure. Kidney failure can be treated with dialysis or kidney transplant.

Graft Failure

When a transplanted organ doesn’t work properly it is known as graft failure. Occurring in one in every ten people, graft failure is one of the most serious complications post liver transplants. Blood clots formed due to disturbance in blood supply are the main cause. Symptoms like jaundice, fluid retention, and mental changes may occur slowly or eventually. 

Biliary Conditions

A bile leak or an obstruction caused by scar tissue in the bile ducts may affect one in every 10 patients. This problem affects the biliary tract. In case of a bile leak, the bile juice is removed by inserting a drainage tube from the abdomen. However, endoscopy can be employed to treat obstruction in the bile ducts. A short tube – stent is inserted to allow bile to flow freely. In some cases, a surgery may be required to cure these conditions.


Another significant complication of liver transplant is cancer. Patients are at increased risk after liver transplant. Melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer and cervical cancer are possible. The chances are very low (one in 50), but patients may also be susceptible to post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD). 

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About Akash Sharma Advanced   Akash Sharma

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Joined APSense since, May 8th, 2019, From Delhi, India.

Created on Mar 30th 2020 23:57. Viewed 210 times.


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