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Alpha-1-antintrypsin deficiency is a genetic disorder that can cause damage to both the liver and lungs in children and adult.  In adults between the age of 20 and 50, the first signs of lung disease due to alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency will be seen.  Initially, symptoms of shortness of breath, reduced exercise capacity, and wheezing will be noted.  Unexplained weight loss and chronic respiratory infections associated with fever and rapid heart rate are additional findings that may be reported.  As the lung disease advances, emphysema will develop.
It is estimated that 10% of infants and 15% of adults with alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency will also have liver damage.  In these cases, signs of liver insufficiency will develop, which will include complications of portal hypertension, edema, and jaundice.  In North America, the frequency of alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency occurs in approximately 1 in 5000 to 7000 people.

Alpha-1-antitrypsin is a specialized protein that is manufactured in the liver.  Its job is to protect the lungs.  A deficiency in alpha-1-antitrypsin leads to progressive lung disease.  In the liver when cirrhosis develops, like so many other causes of cirrhosis, liver transplantation in the most advanced cases needs to be discussed.

Treatments for alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency consist of weekly intravenous infusions of alpha-1-antitrypsin, which is manufactured from human plasma.  By doing this, the concentrations of this protein are elevated in the blood and lungs.  This augmentation therapy is the only FDA approved treatment for alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.  From a research standpoint, long-term controlled clinical trials have not yet been done to show that augmentation therapy alters the course of the lung or liver disease.

Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is diagnosed by measurement of alpha-1-antitrypsin in the blood as well as genetic testing to determine the individual’s genetic makeup.

Obesity and Fatty Liver Disease

Obesity, and all of its related complications, is more serious than most adults in America believe. More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and certain types of cancer, are some of the leading causes of preventable death. We are seeing an increase in the number of young children and adolescents developing obesity, and all of the related complications.

The cost of obesity is staggering, with annual medical cost of obesity exceeding $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars. The medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

Dr. Galati and the Liver Specialists of Texas team are dedicated to evaluate, treat, and manage all aspects of obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD and NASH), including the complication of cirrhosis and liver failure. Developing a customized plan of care for each patient they see is their objective.

Liver Transplant Resources

Dr. Galati has been involved in Liver Transplantation since 1989. As Medical Director for the Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation at Houston Methodist Hospital, Dr. Galati has cared for thousands of patients with advanced liver disease. In those with the most severe form of advanced liver disease and cirrhosis, liver transplantation is a life-saving surgery. For more information on liver transplantation, click here.

Indications for liver transplant include:

Online LIVER Second Opinion

  • 1

    From the comfort of your home, without the need to spend additional money on travel, lodging, and food, receive and expert second opinion from the expert physicians at Liver Specialists of Texas

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    There are five steps in the process of requesting a second opinion. We anticipate the steps will take you about 30-65 minutes to complete.

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    Have your medical records or those of your loved one on hand as you fill out the medical history questionnaire portion of the online process. The medical history questionnaire is detailed so having medical records to quickly reference will help make the process more efficient.

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    To start the process of an Online Liver Second Opinion, please fill out the initial contact form and fax back to our office. A representative from our office will call you for additional details.