Children's Hospital Colorado
Pediatric Liver Center

End-stage liver disease in children

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Pediatric Liver Center
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What is end-stage liver disease?

End-stage liver disease, or chronic liver failure, can progress over months and years. In end-stage liver disease (ESLD), scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue over time. This means the liver can’t perform its normal functions, which are to process nutrients, maintain blood sugar levels and filter toxins.

Depending on the severity of your child’s end-stage liver disease, it may result in the need for a liver transplant. Our team of liver and transplantation specialists will do everything possible to slow the pace of the disease and provide the best transplantation options it a liver transplant becomes necessary. Many conditions can affect your child’s liver function, which can result in ESLD, including:

  • Ascites
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Renal impairment
  • Variceal hemorrhaging

What causes end-stage liver disease in children?

Pediatric liver disease happens when the liver is damaged to the point that it can’t function normally. When diseases or substances damage the liver, the cells of the liver are scarred (known as fibrosis).

When the whole liver becomes scarred, it becomes hard, shrinks and can’t function as it should. This condition is called cirrhosis of the liver and leads to end-stage liver disease.

Who gets pediatric end-stage liver disease?

In adults, years of drinking alcohol or a buildup of fat in the liver can cause ESLD. However, end-stage liver disease in children is usually linked to a liver disorder. A range of diseases, which often progress over months or years, can cause ESLD in children, including:

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