sutures newsletter


P and T Approvals, Tramadol Change, Warnings About Promacta and Sporanox

Pharmacy Focus

See highlights of the June 3 meeting of the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee. Also, tramadol is now being managed as a controlled substance, and the federal government has released a warning about Promacta and a list of contraindications for Sporanox.

Mark Your Calendar

Surgery Grand Rounds

Click the "read more" to see information about upcoming Surgery Grand Rounds.

Grand Rounds

Click here to view a schedule of all upcoming grand rounds.

Education Schedule

Click the PDF link below to see the Department of Surgery's educational schedule.

Educational Schedule - August 2014 (PDF)

Surgery Scheduling

Click the "read more" for hours and contact information for surgery scheduling.

Share Your News

Know an interesting colleague we should profile? A story we should tell? Submit your ideas, meetings and events for consideration.

Click here to submit your news to Sutures

Trial of Bioartificial Liver Underway

When kidneys fail we turn to dialysis as renal-replacement therapy. Why not the liver? When patients present with various forms of acute or chronic liver failure, the need for a "liver dialysis" equivalent has long held an intuitive appeal.

Steven D. Colquhoun, MD

In fact, there has been a decades-long quest on the part of many to develop just that: a device that can, at least temporarily, fill in for the function of the liver. With such a machine, one could bridge patients with acute failure to recovery, or support those with chronic failure through the long wait to a newly transplanted organ.

Unfortunately, the tasks of the liver are incredibly complex, and a successful apparatus would need to provide both detoxification and protein synthetic functions. Accordingly, the use of living cells has been the focus of several prior attempts. In fact, as many may recall, the research interests of the Department of Surgery's prior chair Achilles Demetriou, MD, PhD, were focused on a "bioartificial liver" that utilized porcine hepatocytes.

Steven D. Colquhoun, MD, and the Liver Transplantation team are participating in a multicenter trial of a new bioartificial liver for the treatment of patients with acute liver failure. This very sophisticated cell-based therapeutic strategy utilizes transformed human hepatocytes.

The current study is only the first of a series of trials with the ultimate goal of offering support to patients with different forms of liver failure, as a bridge to recovery or transplantation. Preliminary data are extremely encouraging.

The current phase of study is specific to those patients with acute alcohol-related hepatitis. This particular group of patients has a very high mortality rate, and caring for them can be both daunting and frustrating, with few successful therapeutic options.

If you or a colleague anywhere in Southern California are faced with such a patient, please feel free to call 24/7: 310-423-2641. The transplant team can screen and effect a transfer to its unit for randomization. The team looks forward to contributing to this important work and, even more, to utilizing such a bioartificial liver in routine clinical practice to save more lives.