In people with autoimmune hepatitis, immune cells mistake the liver's normal cells for harmful invaders and attack them. Over time, this can lead to inflammation and impaired liver function, and even cirrhosis (extensive scarring), liver failure, and death if not treated. Some people may eventually require a liver transplant. The liver disease specialists at NewYork-Presbyterian’s Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation are experienced diagnosing and treating autoimmune hepatitis offering medical treatment to delay or reverse the scarring associated with this disease, as well as liver transplantation if needed.
A Team of Liver Disease Experts
Your care team includes hepatologists (liver specialists), gastroenterologists, liver surgeons (should you need a transplant), nurses, physician assistants, registered dietitians, social workers, and others with the compassion and skills to treat people with autoimmune hepatitis and other liver diseases. If your autoimmune hepatitis is related to another condition, such as ulcerative colitis or another autoimmune disease, we can link you with the doctors you need to care for that disorder as well. All the care you need is available in one medical center.
Medical Treatment for Autoimmune Hepatitis
Your doctor will likely start treating you with a course of steroids such as prednisone, which can control your disease’s progression and prevent or even reverse liver damage. Prednisone inhibits your immune response, reducing inflammation. You may also receive an immune suppressant such as azathioprine, mycophenylate mofetil, cyclosporine, or tacrolimus for more long term control as you stop steroids. We will continue to monitor your liver function carefully and determine the lowest dose of immune-suppressing medication you need to control your disease. Also, we will work with your primary care doctor to help survey for complications of long-term steroid or immunosuppressant use such as osteoporosis and cancer.
Liver Transplantation for Autoimmune Hepatitis
In some people, the inflammation and liver damage of autoimmune hepatitis cannot be well controlled with medication alone. In these cases, our doctors may suggest a liver transplant. At NewYork-Presbyterian, you are ten times more likely to receive a liver transplant than at other hospitals in the region, with an average wait time of just nine months. Our surgeons have performed more than 2,000 liver transplants, with outcomes that meet or surpass national averages. They use a variety of liver transplant approaches, including living donor liver transplantation, to extend the limits of organ transplantation and provide the greatest number of transplants possible.