Liver Transplant Glossary

ABSORPTION
The degree and speed at which a drug enters the bloodstream.

ALKALINE PHOSPHATASE
An enzyme produced by liver (and other) cells; elevated blood levels of this substance may indicate abnormal function of the liver or other organs.

ALLOGRAFT (allogenetic graft or homograft)
A graft between two individuals who are of the same species but have genetic differences.

ANTIBIOTICS
A substance produced by or a semisynthetic substance derived from a microorganism and able in dilute solution to inhibit or kill another microorganism. (Used to fight off infections.)

ANTIBODY
A protein produced by the body to eliminate foreign substances, such as bacteria.

ANTIGEN
A foreign molecule or substance, such as a transplant, that triggers an immune response. This response leads to the production of antibodies, which, in turn, try to inactivate or destroy the antigen (transplanted organ).

ANESTHETIC
Medication that reduces pain by dulling sensation.

ARTERIOGRAM
An X-ray of the arteries taken with the aid of a dye.

 ARTHRITIS
Inflammation of joints due to infectious, metabolic or constitutional causes.

 ASCITES
Excess fluid in the abdomen.

ATHEROSCLEROSIS
A buildup of fats in the lining of the arteries that may interfere with the flow of blood.

 AUTOANTIBODY(IES)
An immunoglobulin that reacts against a one's own organ.

B Cell
A specialized white blood cell responsible for the body's immunity. B cells play a central role in antibody production.

 BACTERIA
Small organisms (germs) that can cause disease.

 BILE
A fluid produced by the liver, stored in the gallbladder and released into the small intestine to help absorb dietary fats.

 BILE DUCTS
The tubes through which bile flows.

 BILE LEAK
A hole in the bile-duct system that causes bile to spill into the abdominal cavity.

BILIARY STENOSIS
Narrowing or constriction of a bile duct.

 BILIARY TRACT
A pathway for bile flow from the liver to the opening of the bile duct into the small intestine.

BILIARY TREE
All passageways inside and outside the liver that carry bile to the intestines.

BILIRUBIN
An orange-colored substance in bile produced by the breakdown of red blood cells.

BIOAVAILABILITY
A measure of how much of an administered drug is absorbed into the bloodstream, actually reaching the intended site of action in the body. For example, medicine is absorbed from the GI tract, travels through the bloodstream and reaches the organ tissues, where it works to fight infection, prevent rejection, etc.

 BIOPSY
The removal and examination of tissue for diagnosis.

BLOOD UREA NITROGEN (BUN)
A byproduct of protein breakdown in the body.

CARCINOGENS
A substance that causes the development or increases the incidence of cancer.

CHOLESTEROL
A form of fat that performs necessary functions in the body but can also cause heart disease; cholesterol is found in most foods.

 CHRONIC LIVER DISEASE
A disease of the liver that persists over a long period of time as compared with the course of an acute disease. Symptoms of chronic disease are usually less severe than those of the acute phase of the same disease.

 CIRRHOSIS
A disease causing irreversible scarring of the liver.

 CMV (CYTOMEGALO VIRUS)
A viral infection that is very common among the general public; it can affect the lungs and other organs as well; a member of the family of herpes viruses.

COAGULATION
Blood clotting.

 COAGULOPATHY
A pathologic condition affecting the ability of the blood to clot.

 COMA
A state of profound unconsciousness caused by disease, injury or poison.

DECEASED LIVER TRANSPLANT
When a diseased liver is removed from a patient and replaced by a healthy liver from an individual who has recently died of causes that do not affect the function of his/her liver.

 DECEASED DONOR
An individual who has recently died of causes that do not affect the function of an organ to be transplanted. Either the person or the person's family has generously offered organs and/or tissues for transplantation.

 DELIRIUM
A mental disturbance characterized by confusion, disordered speech and hallucinations.

DETOXIFY
To change a harmful substance into a safer form.

 DIABETES
A clinical condition characterized by elevated blood sugar.

 DIURETICS
A drug or other substance promoting the formation and excretion of urine.

 DIVERTICULITIS
Inflammation of one or more of the diverticulum (a muscular wall present in the stomach, small intestine or most commonly, the colon).

 EDEMA
Excess fluid in body tissues; i.e., swelling of the ankles.

ELECTROLYTE
Generally refers to the dissolved form of a mineral such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, chlorine, etc.

 ENDOSCOPY
The visualization of the interior of organs and cavities of the body with an endoscope.

ENZYME
A protein made in the body and capable of changing a substance from one form to another.

 FIBROSIS
An abnormal condition in which fibrous connective tissue spreads over or replaces normal smooth muscle or other normal organ tissue.

GALL BLADDER
A muscular sac attached to the liver; stores bile.

GASTROENTEROLOGIST
A physician who specializes in the care of the digestive tract.

GINGIVAL HYPERTROPHY
Enlargement of the gums. It is a common side effect of cyclosporine therapy.

GLUCOSE
A type of sugar found in the blood.

 GRAFT
An organ or tissue that is transplanted.

GRAFT SURVIVAL
When a transplanted tissue or organ is accepted by the body and functions properly.

 HEMOCHROMATOSIS
A rare disease of iron metabolism, characterized by excess iron deposits throughout the body.

 HEMOLYTIC ANEMIA
A disorder characterized by chronic premature destruction of the red blood cells. Anemia may be minimal or absent, reflecting the ability of the bone marrow to increase production of red blood cells.

 HEPATECTOMY(IES)
Excision of part of the liver.

HEPATIC
Relating to the liver.

 HEPATIC ENCEPHALOPATHY
A neuropsychiatric manifestation of extensive liver damage caused by chronic or acute liver disease. The condition is characterized by variable consciousness, lethargy, stupor and coma.

HEPATOLOGIST
A physician who studies the liver and liver disease.

HEPATOMEGALY
An enlarged liver.

HERPES
A family of viruses that infects humans.

HISTOCOMPATIBILITY
The examination of human leukocyte antigens (HLA) in a patient, often referred to as "tissue typing" or "genetic matching." Tissue typing is routinely performed for all donors and recipients.

HLA SYSTEM
Genetically determined series of antigens that are present on human white blood cells (leukocytes) and tissues.

 HYPERTENSION
High blood pressure.

 HYPOPITUITARISM
Deficient production of growth hormones by the pituitary gland.

IMMUNE RESPONSE
Any defensive reaction to foreign material by the immune system.

 IMMUNE SYSTEM
The system that protects the body from invasion by foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses, and from cancer cells.

IMMUNITY
A condition of being able to resist a particular infectious disease.

 IMMUNOSUPPRESSIVE AGENTS
Medications given to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ.

 IV, or INTRAVENOUS
Refers to giving medicines or fluids directly into a vein.

IV CATHETER
A small needle with a hollow tube inserted into a vein and used to give medicines or fluids.

 JAUNDICE
Yellowing of the skin and eyes caused by excess bile products in the blood.

KIDNEY
One of the two kidney-bean-shaped organs located on both sides of the spine, just above the waist. They rid the body of waste materials and maintain fluid balance through the production of urine.

LIFELINK FOUNDATION
LifeLink Foundation is a nonprofit community service organization dedicated to the recovery of an increasing number of high quality organs and tissues for transplant therapy. The Foundation attempts to work sensitively, diligently and compassionately with donor families to facilitate the donation of desperately needed organs and tissues for waiting patients.

 LIVER ENZYMES
Substances produced by the liver and released into the blood; these are measured to assess liver function.

 LIVING DONOR TRANSPLANT
When the diseased liver is removed from a patient and replaced with part of a living donor's healthy liver.

 LIVING LIVER DONOR
A person who donates a portion of their liver.

 MALIGNANT TUMOR
A deadly growth that has no physiologic purpose.

 MATCH
The compatibility between recipient and donor. In general, the more closely the donor and recipient "match," the greater the potential for a successful transplant.

 NATIVE LIVER
The original liver of a patient.

 NEONATAL HEMOCHROMATOSIS
A rare disease of iron metabolism, characterized by excess iron deposits throughout the body of an infant.

NEUTROPHIL
A type of white blood cell.

NONCOMPLIANCE
Failure to follow the instructions of one's healthcare providers, such as not taking medicine as prescribed or not showing up for clinic visits.

ORALLY
By mouth.

ORGAN PRESERVATION
Between organ procurement and transplant, organs require special methods of preservation to keep them viable. The length of time that organs and tissues can be kept outside the body varies, depending on the organ, the preservation fluid and the temperature.

ORGAN PROCUREMENT ORGANIZATION (OPO)
OPOs serve as the integral link between the potential donor and recipient and are accountable for the retrieval, preservation and transportation of organs for transplantation. All OPOs are United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) members.

ORGAN REJECTION
An attempt by the immune system to reject or destroy what it recognizes to be a "foreign" presence (for example, a transplanted liver).

PCP Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia
A type of pneumonia seen primarily in patients whose immune systems are suppressed.

PERFORATED BOWEL

Having holes or cuts in the bowel (intestines, gut).

PLATELET
A small blood cell needed for normal blood clotting.

 PORTAL HYPERTENSION
An increased pressure in the portal circulation (a vein carrying blood from the digestive organs and spleen to the liver) caused by compression or by occlusion in the portal or hepatic vascular system. It is frequently associated with cirrhosis.

 POTASSIUM
A mineral essential for body function.

 PREDNISONE
A manufactured steroid hormone taken by most transplant recipients to help prevent rejections.

PROPHYLACTIC MEDICATION
Medication that helps prevent disease.

 REJECTION
An immune response against grafted tissue, which, if not successfully treated, results in failure of the graft to survive.

 RENAL
Refers to the kidney.

RETRANSPLANTATION
Due to organ rejection or transplant failure, some patients need another transplant and return to the waiting list. Reducing the number of retransplants is critical when examining ways to maximize a limited supply of donor organs.

SCLEROSIS
A condition characterized by hardening of tissue resulting from any several causes, including inflammation, the deposit of mineral salts, and infiltration of connective tissue fibers.

SENSITIZED
Being immunized, or able to mount an immune response, against an antigen by previous exposure to that antigen.

 SHINGLES
A herpes virus infection (herpes zoster) that usually affects a nerve, causing pain in one area of the body.

 SODIUM
A component of table salt (sodium chloride); an electrolyte that is the main salt in blood.

 STATUS
Indicates the degree of medical urgency for patients awaiting a liver transplant.

STRICTURE or STENOSIS
A narrowing of a passage in the body.

SURVIVAL RATES
Survival rates indicate how many patients or grafts (transplanted organs) are alive/functioning at a set time post-transplant. Survival rates are often given at one, three and five years.

T CELLS
A white blood cell responsible for the body's immunity. T cells can destroy cells infected by viruses, graft cells and other altered cells.

 THYROIDITIS
Inflammation of the thyroid gland.

TISSUE TYPING
A blood test (performed prior to transplantation) to evaluate the closeness of tissue match between donor's organ and recipient's HLA antigens.

T-TUBE
A tube placed in the bile duct that allows bile to drain into a bag outside the body.

 ULCERATIVE COLITIS
A chronic, episodic, inflammatory disease of the large intestine and rectum, characterized by profuse watery diarrhea containing varying amounts of blood, mucus and pus.

UNITED NETWORK FOR ORGAN SHARING (UNOS)
The mission of UNOS is to advance organ availability and transplantation by uniting and supporting its communities for the benefit of patients through education, technology and policy development.

 VARICES (VARIX)
An enlarged, dilated vein.

 VIRAL HEPATITIS
A viral, inflammatory disease of the liver, caused by one of the hepatitis viruses.

 VIRUS
A very small agent (germ) that causes infection.

 WAITING LIST
After evaluation by the transplant physician, a patient is added to the national waiting list by the transplant center. Lists are specific to both geographic area and organ type: heart, lung, kidney, liver, pancreas, intestine, heart-lung, kidney-pancreas. Each time a donor organ becomes available, the UNOS computer generates a list of potential recipients based on factors that include genetic similarity, organ size and medical urgency. Through this process, a "new" list is generated each time an organ becomes available.

 WHITE BLOOD CELLS
Cells in the blood that fight infection; part of the immune system.