Our Program

Our Liver Disease Program at Keck Medicine of USC is one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive programs of its kind, providing state-of-the-art, exceptional treatment for the full range of diseases and complications affecting the liver. Keck Medicine at USC experts from virtually every specialty area collaborates with our renowned liver specialists to provide complete, effective multidisciplinary care.

Recognized as a leader in innovative care, our commitment to thoroughly research and understand the underlying mechanisms of liver disease has afforded us the knowledge to develop and advance increasingly effective and curative treatments for conditions considered quite grave just a short time ago. These include:

Hepatitis C, a viral infection of the liver, affects approximately 3.2 million people nationwide and is one of the leading causes of liver cancer and cirrhosis, two conditions that often require liver transplantation. Keck Medicine of USC is a regional leader in hepatitis C expertise, and in the development of appropriate regimens for its treatment.

The FDA has approved many new therapeutic agents over the last two years, providing patients with curative treatment with few side effects. Currently, we are the sole regional participants in clinical trials with Merck, testing several new hepatitis C drugs scheduled for FDA approval in late 2015.

Fatty liver, caused by obesity, diabetes or dyslipidemia, affects approximately 18 million people nationwide. In two-to-five percent of these individuals, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) –chronic inflammation and damage to the liver – will develop, eventually leading to cirrhosis and in some cases, cancer. Fatty liver is currently the second leading reason patients require liver transplants. No FDA-approved treatment exists.

Our program is currently the only one evaluating the effectiveness of weight-loss surgery on reversing or eliminating cirrhosis in patients with fatty liver disease. Conventionally, bariatric surgery is not recommended for obese patients with fatty livers, because they may be at risk for uncontrollable bleeding and other life-threatening complications. Our multidisciplinary team is comprised of one of the most highly-skilled bariatric surgeons in the country, a leading academic hepatologist, a top-rated pathologist and an expert radiologist adept at operating a one of the only specialized MRI machines in the country designed to detect and calculate the exact percentage of fat in the liver. Together, this expert team has successfully surgically treated high-risk patients with outstanding results.

Clinical trials to determine who are the best candidates for fatty liver weight-loss surgery, evaluate whether a sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass is the better surgical choice, and assess the long-term benefits of this treatment are currently underway.

Liver transplantation may add years of life to those who face certain death from cancer, cirrhosis and other diseases of the liver. No longer a novel, exotic procedure with unpredictable outcomes, the demand for liver transplants continues to climb, as does the incidence of hepatitis, fatty liver and cancer. Meanwhile, as healthcare improves, the supply of available organs remains severely limited, especially in Southern California, which has the most acute organ shortage in the United States.

Our Liver Transplantation Program at Keck Medicine at USC is one of the busiest in the United States, attracting patients worldwide. Unique to our program are two highly beneficial services that are not readily available at many medical centers nationwide.. These include:

Our Living Donor Liver Transplant Program, which addresses the organ shortage by replacing a diseased liver with a portion of a healthy liver from a live donor. Within weeks, both livers grow to normal size. As one of the pioneering experts in this field, and the only one in Southern California with an active program, we have performed close to 300 living donor procedures.

Some patients, due to personal beliefs or religious constraints, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, refuse blood transfusions. To accommodate this patient population, we are a leading provider of transfusion-free liver transplantation and the only medical center that offers transfusion-free living donor transplants.

Our Approach

We are dedicated to providing coordinated, comprehensive care as well as advancing research in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases of the liver. As a patient, you will receive personalized, patient-centered care by a team of highly skilled experts from a wide range of specialties, determined by your particular treatment and procedure needs. These may include transplant surgeons, hepatologists, imaging experts, radiation oncologists, nutritionists, pathologists, geneticists and nurse specialists.

Your team of experts will consult with you and your referring physician, if applicable, to design an individualized treatment plan to produce the best possible outcome available to you. After treatment, we will continue to monitor your progress with frequent follow-ups, possibly for a lifetime.