Liver Disease and Failure | Transplant | Loyola Medicine

Liver Disease and Failure

Nationally Recognized Care for the Treatment of Liver Disease and Failure

Loyola Medicine is nationally recognized for exceptional, integrated care for patients with chronic and end-stage liver disease and failure. We are known for taking on the most challenging cases and delivering outstanding outcomes. 

At Loyola, you will have an entire multidisciplinary team on your side. In addition to liver disease, you may face other health challenges related to your condition. Loyola’s subspecialists provide expertise in a wide range of health conditions, and your healthcare team will facilitate a referral to an appropriate specialist if needed. 

Why Choose Loyola for the Treatment of Liver Disease and Failure?

Loyola’s experienced hepatology team has vast experience in treating all aspects of liver disease and will work closely with your primary care doctor to treat your condition. Our specialists have extensive experience treating all types of liver disorders and will first explore conservative approaches to treatment, including lifestyle changes and medical management.

If your liver disease cannot be well-controlled with medical treatment, transplant surgery may be recommended. Loyola’s liver surgeons are highly skilled in minimally invasive surgical approaches, as well as advanced biliary surgeries. Our patient- and graft-survival rates exceed national standards at the one- and three-month benchmarks. In addition, our infectious disease team works closely with donors and recipients to ensure that the transferred tissue is as healthy as possible.

Loyola’s living liver donor program provides outstanding outcomes for liver transplant candidates with a willing donor. This approach offers several advantages. Having a living donor reduces the chances of health complications while on the waiting list, and living donor livers often start to function immediately after transplant surgery. The donated liver also spends less time outside the body, which increases the viability of the donated tissue. In addition, transplant candidates and their donors have more flexibility in scheduling surgery.

Loyola understands that receiving care close to home makes life easier, which is why we provide care in 12 convenient locations across Chicago and the suburbs.

What is Liver Disease and Failure?

The liver is one of the largest organs, second only to one’s skin. It performs a wide variety of functions related to digestion, metabolism, immunity and nutrient storage, in addition to clearing toxins from the blood. It also produces many of the proteins your body needs to function, as well as bile, which helps to digest food in the intestine.

Liver disease often happens gradually over several years, without obvious symptoms in the beginning. Many factors can cause liver disease, including autoimmune disorders, viruses, chronic alcohol abuse and genetic disorders. You may have problems with your liver if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Ankle or leg swelling
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Dark urine color
  • Frequent bacterial infections
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Itching
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tendency to bruise easily
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Loyola’s liver disease specialists have treated the most difficult types of liver disease and a wide range of disorders, including:

How is Liver Disease and Failure Diagnosed?

If you have symptoms that could be related to liver disease, your Loyola hepatologist will take a detailed personal and medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination. Depending on your condition, your doctor may order the following liver tests, among others: 

  • Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
  • Albumin test
  • Alkaline phosphatase
  • Alpha-1-antitrypsin level
  • Antimitochondrial antibody level
  • Antinuclear/anti-smooth muscle antibodies
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
  • Bilirubin test
  • Ceruloplasmin level
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
  • Liver biopsy
  • Liver enzyme tests
  • Liver function tests
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Prothrombin time and INR
  • Tests for antibodies, proteins and nucleic acids
  • Tests for serum iron, transferrin saturation and ferritin
  • Ultrasound

What Treatment Options are Available for Liver Disease and Failure?

Loyola’s doctors and surgeons have helped patients recover from the most challenging liver diseases and will work with you to lay out an individualized medical action plan. Your treatment will depend on your condition and may include:

Your doctors will first explore conservative approaches to treatment, including lifestyle changes and medical management. If your condition cannot be well managed with medical treatments, surgery or a liver transplant may be the best option. 

Loyola’s transplant surgeons are the best in their field. As faculty at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, our transplant surgeons perform and teach the latest in transplant surgical techniques. In addition, our skilled and compassionate nurse coordinators work closely with transplant patients, providing support and answering your questions—not only before surgery, but afterward as well.

Risk Reduction Tips for Liver Disease and Failure

For patients with liver disease, Loyola’s experienced team provides compassionate care along with the latest technology and treatments available. However, we want you to know that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of liver disease:

  • Ask your doctor about testing for hepatitis.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation (one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men).
  • Exercise care to avoid contact with other people’s blood and bodily fluids, whether cleaning an open wound or during sexual contact.
  • Follow instructions on over-the-counter medications. Taking too many pills can damage your liver.
  • Get your vaccine shots, including those for hepatitis.
  • If you use street drugs, don’t share needles.
  • Take care around insecticides, fungicides, paint and toxic chemicals. Use aerosols only in well-ventilated areas and use protective glasses and gloves.

Ongoing Research and Evaluation of Liver Disease and Failure

Loyola is conducting research today that will lead to the treatments of tomorrow. As an academic medical center, Loyola can offer groundbreaking treatments through ongoing national trials and clinical research. Loyola patients will be granted access to the latest medications and therapies through our clinical trials.