Liver transplant glossary

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Albumin: a protein made by the liver

Alkaline phosphatase: an enzyme produced by liver cells and other cells; blood tests that measure this enzyme indicate if the liver and bile ducts are functioning properly

Amylase: a substance produced by the pancreas when it is inflamed that can be measured in the blood

Anesthesia: medicine that is given by a specially trained physician or nurse to put a patient to sleep (general anesthesia) or numb an area of the body (local anesthesia) so that a medical procedure or operation can be done without pain

Antacid: a medicine that protects the digestive system; it can relieve indigestion and other digestive discomfort

Antibody: a protein that the body produces after fighting an infection

Antigen: a substance found on the surface of some cells that can trigger an immune response

Arteriogram: an x-ray of the arteries in which a dye is injected into the body to get a clearer picture of blood vessels and organs

Ascites: fluid in the abdomen

Bacteria: organisms or germs that can cause disease

Bile: a fluid produced by the liver, stored in the gallbladder and released into the small intestine to help the body digest fats

Bile leak: a hole in the bile duct resulting in bile spilling into the abdomen

Bile tube: a tube placed in the bile duct allowing bile to drain into a bag outside of the body

Biliary stenosis: narrowing or constriction of the bile duct

Biliary tree: the passageways that carry bile to the intestines located inside and outside of the liver

Bilirubin: an orange colored substance in the bile that is produced when red blood cells break down

Biopsy: the procedure that removes a piece of tissue from a part of the body and is examined in the lab

Bladder: the part of the urinary tract that receives urine from the kidneys and stores it until urination

Cadaver: the body of person who is dead

Cadaveric (should be deceased not cadaveric) donor: an individual whose death does not affect the quality of their organs; the individual and their family have agreed to donate organs and tissues for transplantation

Cardiac: the heart

Cardiologist: a doctor specializing in heart diseases

Cholesterol: a form of fat the body needs to perform certain functions; too much cholesterol can cause heart disease

Cirrhosis: severe scarring of the liver

CMV (Cytomegalovirus): a virus that lies dormant in the body and can be reactivated after transplantation causing flu like illness, pneumonia and/or gastrointestinal ulcers

Diabetes: a disease in which people are unable to process sugar in the body correctly

Donor: a person who gives an organ to someone else

  • A deceased donor is an individual whose death does not affect the quality of their organs; the individual and their family have agreed to donate organs and tissues for transplantation.
  • A living related donor is a donor who is a blood relative of the recipient, such as a parent or sibling
  • A living unrelated donor is a donor who is not a blood relative of the recipient.
  • All living donors must pass a comprehensive medical evaluation to assure they can donate without complications. The testing for living donors may take up to two to three months.

EBV (Epstein Barr Virus): a virus that lies dormant in the body and can be activated after transplantation or during childhood causing flu-like illness, enlarged lymph nodes and/or general malaise

Edema: excess fluid in the tissues in the body; swollen ankles are a sign

Electrocardiogram: a recording of the electrical activity of the heart

Encephalopathy: a condition associated with liver disease characterized by insomnia, memory loss and an inability to concentrate or think clearly

Endotrachael tube: a tube inserted through the mouth or nose into the windpipe allowing people to breathe during surgery

Gallbladder: a sac attached to the liver that stores bile

Gastroenterologist: a doctor specializing in the digestive tract and its diseases

Gingival: enlargement of the gums resulting from some anti-rejection medications; can be managed with oral hygiene and dental care

Glucose: a type of sugar found in the blood

Hematocrit: a measure of the percent of red blood cells in the blood

Hepatic: having to do with the liver

Hepatologist: a doctor specializing in the liver and its diseases

Herpes: a family of viruses infecting humans and causing lip sores, genital sores and shingles

Hypertension: high blood pressure; can cause damage to the body by overworking the heart and blood vessels

Immune response: a defensive action by the immune system

Immunosuppressive agents: medicines to control the immune system and prevent rejection of a transplanted organ

International normalized ratio (INR): a standardized way of monitoring blood clotting

Intravenous (IV): a line that is placed into a vein through which medicines and fluids can be administered

Jaundice: a yellowing of the skin and eyes caused by excess bile products in the blood; common sign of liver disease

Liver: the largest internal organ of the body, located in the upper right portion of the abdomen; performs numerous vital functions

Liver enzymes (AST/SGOT/ALT/SGPT): substances produced by the liver; when there is injury to the liver these enzymes are produced in large amounts and can be measured in the blood

Match: the compatibility between a recipient and a donor

Orally: by mouth

PCP (Pneumocystis Carinni Pneumonia): a type of pneumonia most often seen in patients whose immune systems are suppressed

PTLD (Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease): a problem that occurs in transplant patients and is believed to be caused by an interaction between immunosuppression medications and a chronic viral infection called EBV (Epstein Barr Virus)

Potassium: an electrolyte responsible for vital muscle functioning

Prothrombin: a substance produced by the liver that helps with clotting; prothrombin is a blood test that indirectly measures the ability of the liver to produce prothrombin

Recipient: the person receiving a donated organ

Sensitized: the ability to develop an immune response to an antigen by being exposed to it at some other time

Shingles: a condition caused by a virus that lies dormant in a nerve root after having chicken pox and when activated can cause blisters and pain in a area of the body

Sodium: electrolyte that is the main salt in the blood; also one component of table salt

Stenosis (Stricture): a narrowing of a passage in the body

Thrush: a fungal infection in the mouth

T cells: white blood cells that play a major role in rejection destroying cells infected by bacteria and viruses; can identify new organ harming the body

Tissue typing: a blood test to determine the compatibility of a donor and recipient's antigens

Tyriglycerides: a form of fat that the body makes from sugar, alcohol and excess calories

Ultrasound: a non-invasive x-ray allowing clinicians to see and evaluate internal organs and blood vessels

Urinary tract infection: an infection on one or more parts of the urinary tract

Ventilator: a machine that helps a person breathe

Virus: germ causing infection

White blood cells: the cells in the blood that fight infection

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