Graft versus host disease after liver transplant is reportedly caused due to blood transfusions, organ transplants as well as bone marrow transplant. The chances of getting this disease are higher if there is wide mismatch between the donor and the recipient.
Graft versus host disease, or GVHD as it is commonly called, can be of two types -- acute GVHD and chronic GVHD. While chronic GVHD may occur after 100 days of transplant, acute GVHD occurs before that or within 100 days of transplant. Acute GVHD is said to cause damage to the organs such as the liver, skin, and gastrointestinal tract wherein the patient may suffer from sever diarrhea, abdominal pain along with nausea as well as vomiting. The patients may also suffer from fever and also experience weight loss. Patients who have chronic GVHD can suffer from skin changes, keratoconjuctivitis, Hepatitis, hair loss etc. Tests such as the liver function tests, lung x-ray, skin and liver biopsy can be done to diagnose GVHD.
Though the symptoms of this disease do not seem very severe, acute GVHD leads to death in 15-40% of the patients who get GVHD. Most of the times, chronic GVHD develops from acute GVHD. Also, the risk of getting GVHD is related to the age of the patients also, where the patients who are older than 50 years are at maximum risk and the patients younger than 20 years are at minimum risk. The patients in between this age group have a 30 percent risk of getting GVHD.
Though GVHD has a high mortality rate, it can be treated successfully with some amount of medication consisting of corticosteroids such as prednisone.
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