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NASH liver transplants increase, but outlook is good

Category: Liver Diseases

The number of people receiving liver transplants for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) increased dramatically during the past 13 years, according to a new study. The findings may indicate that many more people now receive unhealthy liver panel tests.

Liver transplants were once largely the domain of lifelong alcoholics. Severe diseases of the organ requiring transplants for reasons other than excessive alcohol consumption were rare. However, with increasing obesity rates, many more people are receiving unhealthy liver panel tests, as high levels of fat in the organ can cause scarring that impairs its function.

For the study, researchers from the University of Washington analyzed data collected from nearly 54,000 individuals who received a liver transplant between 1997 and 2010. The results showed that the number of people who required a transplant for non-alcohol-related reasons increased from 279 between the years of 1997 to 2003 (1.2 percent of liver transplants) to 1,531 between 2004 and 2010 (7.4 percent of liver transplants.)

On the bright side, individuals who received transplants for NASH had one-year survival rates close to 88 percent. While the number of people requiring surgery for this preventable condition may be increasing rapidly, the prognosis for patients is relatively good.

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