Liver Diseases

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UT Southwestern Medical Center offers the most advanced diagnostic and treatment options for all types of liver disease, whether acute or chronic, and liver tumors. By preventing or delaying additional liver damage and related complications through innovative therapies, our liver disease specialists can markedly improve patients’ health and quality of life.

Treating Both Acute and Chronic Liver Disease

Most liver diseases are chronic, meaning that they can cause injury to the liver over years without the person knowing it, leading to scarring (fibrosis). When the scarring is extensive, the condition is called cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis can lead to the organ losing its ability to function, or it can cause primary liver cancer to develop.

Acute liver disease is typically related to a recent liver injury. The most common type of injury is from medications and known as drug-induced liver injury. Every medication (prescription or nonprescription) has the potential of causing injury to the liver. Infections, clots in the liver’s blood vessels, and some forms of chronic liver disease are rare causes of acute liver disease.

UT Southwestern is dedicated to treating, curing, and restoring a sense of health for all who deal with liver disease. Our main goal is to treat liver disease in order to prevent future complications. However, if a patient does have complications, we can facilitate a liver transplantation.

Liver Diseases We Treat

Liver diseases we treat at UT Southwestern include:

  • Acute liver failure: A rare but serious and rapid deterioration of liver function in someone with no pre-existing liver disease.
  • Alcoholic fatty liver disease: Liver damage caused by alcohol use. UT Southwestern’s Mack Mitchell, M.D., specializes in alcoholic liver disease and is part of a group of investigators looking for novel therapies for alcoholic hepatitis, which is a type of liver injury from alcoholic liver disease.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis: A chronic disease that occurs when the immune system attacks the liver. UT Southwestern’s Marlyn Mayo, M.D., is one of the foremost experts in the country on autoimmune hepatitis.
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: A disease characterized by the buildup of fat in the liver tissue. This is the most common type of chronic liver disease. UT Southwestern liver specialists have active clinical trials for these patients.
  • Hemochromatosis: A disorder in which the body absorbs and stores too much iron.
  • Viral hepatitis: An infection that causes inflammation of the liver, typically caused by the hepatitis B or hepatitis C viruses and requiring antiviral therapy.
  • Liver cancer: Cancer that begins in the cells of the liver. UT Southwestern’s Liver Cancer Program includes physicians with international reputations for treating this form of cancer.
  • Primary biliary cholangitis: A chronic disease caused by progressive destruction of the liver’s bile ducts. Marlyn Mayo, M.D., is one of the foremost experts in the U.S. on primary biliary cholangitis.
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis: A chronic disease in which inflammation causes scarring within the liver’s bile ducts. Marlyn Mayo, M.D., is currently performing novel clinical trials on this condition.
  • Wilson’s disease: A rare genetic disorder in which copper builds up in the liver, brain, and other vital organs
  • Cirrhosis of the liver: A gradual disease in which healthy liver cells are replaced by scar tissue. Scarring can result from any chronic liver disease and not just from excessive alcohol intake. As the liver loses function, complications can occur such as swelling, jaundice, confusion, kidney damage, low oxygen levels in the blood, bleeding from varicose veins, elevated pressures in the heart, and/or liver cancer. Once complications develop, the best treatment option is generally liver transplantation.

Liver Diseases in Children

Children and adolescents with liver conditions need specialty care that’s focused on their particular problems. UT Southwestern Pediatric Group’s Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition Program offers the only Pediatric Liver Center in North Texas with experts in liver diseases that are unique to children and adolescents. We provide state-of-the-art expertise and technology to diagnose and treat pediatric liver diseases such as biliary atresia, metabolic liver disease, and genetic associated liver disorders.

The Center is the site for several clinical trials that can offer patients access to new therapeutics for biliary atresia, progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis, and viral hepatitis. We work closely with UTSW’s Pediatric Liver Transplant Center, one of the highest ranked transplant programs in Texas.

Learn more about our Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition Program.

Treatment Options for Liver Diseases

UT Southwestern specialists provide the latest therapies, including immunosuppressant medications and advanced procedures, to treat liver diseases. Our integrated, multidisciplinary team of experts works together to provide an unparalleled level of seamless, patient-focused care.

When necessary, our experienced Liver Transplant team uses state-of-the-art techniques and technologies to help patients with end-stage liver failure. Our program has a three-year patient survival rate that surpasses the national average.

Leaders in Liver Disease Research and Patient Care

UT Southwestern is at the forefront of liver disease treatment and research. Our faculty has a long history of advancements in the field, translating groundbreaking scientific insights into superior patient care. Our team includes:

  • Helen Hobbs, M.D., and Jay Horton, M.D., pioneers in fatty liver disease research. Dr. Hobbs and her team have uncovered genetic risk factors and novel potential treatment targets for fatty liver disease.
  • Amit Singal, M.D., a premier researcher in hepatocellular carcinoma screening and one of the top contributors to the literature on it worldwide. He is the Medical Director of the Liver Tumor Program at UT Southwestern.
  • Marlyn Mayo, M.D., an expert in the field of autoimmune-mediated and cholestatic liver disease. Dr. Mayo has contributed significantly to the literature and body of knowledge for the management of primary biliary cholangitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and autoimmune hepatitis. She is a sought-after speaker nationally and internationally.
  • Mack Mitchell, M.D., a leader in clinical research on understanding and managing alcoholic liver disease. Dr. Mitchell and his collaborators continue to investigate novel treatments for a disease with limited treatment options and a high mortality.

Research on Liver Diseases

UT Southwestern has been part of more than 40 clinical trials in the past 20 years and been instrumental in major national research networks in hepatitis B and C, drug-induced liver injury, and acute liver failure. We are also part of the Acute Liver Failure Study Group, which is a clinical research network funded by the NIH that works collaboratively to gather important prospective data and biosamples.

Learn more about current studies.