Sumitra Deb Roy, TNN | Jul 28, 2014, 12.00AM IST
A study by a Mumbai hospital has revealed that a transplanted liver in a recipient, and the remnant liver in a donor, grows back to its normal size much faster than has been previously believed.
MUMBAI: The marvel of liver is not just its capacity for regeneration but also the swift pace at which it regenerates. A study by a Mumbai hospital has revealed that a transplanted liver in a recipient, and the remnant liver in a donor, grows back to its normal size much faster than has been previously believed.
Doctors at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH) have found that liver regeneration is nearly complete by three weeks, and does not take three months as most conventional medical textbooks suggest. The Andheri hospital that runs a living-donor transplant programme busted the myth by tracking the regeneration of liver in 11 recipients and six donors who had undergone transplants between March and November 2013.
Liver is the only organ in the human body that can regrow to a near normal size from as little as 25%. In living-donor liver transplantation, a part of the donor’s liver is used to replace the damaged or cancerous liver of the recipient patient. Both the remaining liver of the donor and the part transplanted into the patient grow back to full size.
“Our study found that by the ninth day after the surgery the donor’s remnant liver increased to more than 1.5 times its size and by the 12th day almost doubled. Similarly, the liver transplanted into the patient doubled in size 19 days after the transplant,” said Dr Vinay Kumaran, consultant and head of the liver transplant programme at KDAH. The regeneration of transplanted liver in the recipient was found to be faster than that of the remnant liver in the donor. “This could probably be explained by the fact that in liver transplants about two-thirds of the donor liver is given to the recipient. So, naturally they reach the standard full volume before the donor,” Kumaran added.
Kumaran said the study was an eye-opener: “It surprised each one of us who were told by medical textbooks that it takes liver at least a couple of months to regrow completely.” He hailed the revelation, which means faster recovery for patients. “It will instil confidence in patients, particularly donors, that they can resume their normal life quickly.” The study, presented recently at the International Liver Transplantation Society in London, has now been published in the Liver Transplantation journal.
The research team, headed by Dr Tushar Pawar, looked at CT scans done on liver donors and liver transplant recipients after the operation and at various time intervals ranging from 1 to 120 days. The team used a special software to capture liver measurements. The findings spelled good news for end-stage liver failure patients, but more so for the donors.
“In any liver transplant, the safety of the donor is of utmost importance,” said Dr Chetan Kantharia, head of gastroenterology at KEM Hospital in Parel. “It is known that up to 50% growth of liver happens in the first few weeks. But as per our experience the complete growth easily takes up to six months,” he maintained, while acknowledging the scarcity of data on liver regeneration in the country.