USC Study Predicts Survival of Children With Liver Disease

Kasper Wang, assistant professor of surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and pediatric surgeon at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, co-authored a study that determines the defining factors that predict long-term survival in children with biliary atresia. The paper appears in the current issue of Annals of Surgery.

Biliary atresia is a liver disease affecting newborns with malfunctioning bile ducts. The ducts are responsible for transporting waste away from the liver to the gallbladder, where it is stored before entering the digestive system.

In the case of biliary atresia, the ducts are either not properly formed or are blocked, and immediate surgery is necessary to drain bile from the liver. Even with early intervention, newborns can face up to a 50 percent risk for liver failure that would require a liver transplant in the future.

The study included 244 babies diagnosed with biliary atresia in the United States and represents the first prospective analysis of patients from the date of diagnosis, surgery and future survival rates. The abstracted data illuminates the factors that contribute to survival and offers a framework for physicians to both diagnose and treat babies with this debilitating disease.

“We have identified some of the leading factors that affect the survival rate in biliary atresia and can use them to better inform the current treatments,” Wang said. “Our long-term goal is to use the information to develop new research studies that will benefit future patients.”

Wang and several colleagues recently spoke about the treatments and issues facing patients with biliary artresia on Biliary Atresia Day, an event held at The Saban Research Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Patients and their families gathered to meet and learn from each other about the disease, and several long-term survivors shared their personal stories.

“It is important to remember that despite the statistics, many people survive with or without a liver transplant,” Wang said. “Biliary Atresia Day showcased the medical treatments that work. It was great to hear the [survivors’] stories, and we are happy to provide a place for families to gather and support each other.”

Science News Source: University of Southern California