Some infants with biliary atresia obtain dramatic improvement for prolonged periods after the performance of hepatic portoenterostomy. Such infants may have life styles not substantially different from those of normal children. In others, the benefit from this operation, if any, is short lived. These infants are very vulnerable to the debilitating effects of severe, prolonged malabsorption and ultimately require orthotopic liver transplantation to sustain life. The physician caring for infants awaiting liver transplantation can do much, not only to prolong survival but to maintain satisfactory growth and development. The key consideration is to provide adequate nitrogen and nonnitrogen calories, liberally utilizing modern methods of enteral alimentation when necessary. In addition, attention must be directed toward several vitamin and mineral deficiencies, particularly those of the fat-soluble vitamins, that inevitably accompany severe malabsorption in children. Management of extrahepatic biliary atresia in infants is difficult and requires meticulous attention to details. Nevertheless, the long-term cure of this disorder provided by liver transplantation makes their care a rewarding experience.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health