Patients should be considered for liver transplantation if they have evidence of fulminant hepatic failure, a life-threatening systemic complication of liver disease, or a liver-based metabolic defect or, more commonly, cirrhosis with complications such as hepatic encephalopathy, ascites, hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatorenal syndrome, or bleeding caused by portal hypertension. While the complications of cirrhosis can often be managed relatively effectively, they indicate a change in the natural history of the disease that should lead to consideration of liver transplantation. Referral to a liver transplant center is followed by a detailed medical evaluation to ensure that transplantation is technically feasible, medically appropriate, and in the best interest of both the patient and society. Patients approved for transplantation are placed on a national transplant list, although donor organs are allocated locally and regionally. Since 2002, priority for transplantation has been determined by the Model of End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score, which provides donor organs to listed patients with the highest estimated short-term mortality.
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