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Paediatric Liver Clinic (Hepatology)

One of the largest organs in the body, the liver has a number of functions including fighting infections and illness; removing poisonous substances from the body; controlling cholesterol; helping blood to clot; and producing bile, which breaks down fats and helps with digestion.

King’s College Hospital Dubai offers highly specialised treatment for children with liver disease, as well as associated problems that can affect the kidneys and small bowel (intestines). Liver disease treatment may be necessary if your child’s liver has been damaged by disease or injury.

Conditions that we can diagnose and treat include:

  • Neonatal cholestasis -biliary atresia, choledochal cyst
  • Autoimmune liver disease
  • Chronic liver disease and portal hypertension
  • Chronic viral hepatitis B and C
  • Liver failure (acute)
  • Metabolic liver diseases including Wilson’s disease and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
  • Liver transplant

Treatments include liver transplant surgery as well as special feeding for children with liver disease.

We have a large, specialised children’s team that is supported by other specialists within the hospital, including radiologists and histopathologists (who examine tissue samples).

What are the signs and symptoms of liver disease?
In the early stages of liver disease, there may not be any obvious signs or symptoms. However, as the liver becomes more damaged your child may lose his or her appetite, lose weight, and have jaundice (yellow skin and eyes).

What is Neonatal (newborn) jaundice?
This is caused by a build-up of a chemical known as bilirubin in the blood and tissues of the body.

Signs usually develop two to three days after birth and, in most cases, improve without treatment by the time your baby is around two weeks old. Signs include: yellowing of skin, eyes, and inside the mouth and nose as well as pale stools (faeces) and dark urine.

Treatment for newborn jaundice isn’t usually recommended unless the baby has very high levels of bilirubin in the blood. However, you may be offered phototherapy (treatment using light) which can improve the jaundice and, if necessary, an exchange transfusion (where small amounts of your baby’s blood are replaced with blood from a donor).

In most cases, babies that need to have treatment respond well and can go home after a few days. However, in a very few number of cases, a condition called kernicterus develops which can cause brain damage (this affects only around 1 in every 100,000 babies).

Your doctor will be able to advise you about your child’s condition, the best options for treatment and the long-term outlook, including ongoing care.

More information/support groups
There are a number of UK-based charities that can offer helpful advice and support through their websites for children with liver diseases and their families. These include:

The Children’s Liver Disease Foundation

Action medical research for children