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Preparing for a liver transplant

Find out about what happens before the operation.

Preparation for your operation

You won't get a great deal of notice before your operation. When a suitable donor liver becomes available you have to go straight into hospital. You'll have regular check ups while you are waiting so you are as ready as you can be.

Before your operation, you will need: 
  • a chest X-ray
  • a heart trace (ECG)
  • blood tests
  • your temperature checked

The X-ray and temperature and some of the blood tests are to check for infection. The ECG checks the health of your heart. The rest of the blood tests check the health of your kidneys. You will have all this done when you arrive at the hospital. Overnight, you may have medicines, fluids, or blood products through a drip to make sure everything is as good as it can be.

Your nurse or physiotherapist will teach you breathing and leg exercises. You can help yourself recover by doing these when you are told you need to after your surgery. These exercises will help to stop chest infections and blood clots. Both of these complications can happen because you are not moving around as much as you normally would be. You will also have elastic stockings to put on before you go down to theatre. These also help to prevent blood clots.

Watch the video below showing breathing and circulation exercises after surgery. 

Last reviewed: 
02 Mar 2015
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma: ESMO–ESDO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    C. Verslype, O. Rosmorduc, P. Rougier,
    Ann Oncol (2012) 23 (suppl 7)

  • EASL-EORTC clinical practice guidelines: management of hepatocellular carcinoma
    European Association For The Study Of The Liver; European Organisation For Research And Treatment Of Cancer
    April 2012Volume 56, Issue 4, Pages 908–943

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