Liver Conditions (Pediatric)

The liver doctors (hepatologists) of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital are specially trained in the diagnosis and management of all types of childhood liver disease, including liver tumors and the care of children and adolescents before and after liver transplantation.

Our highly-skilled liver specialists are committed to providing clinical care to children with all forms of pediatric liver disease, from the tiniest infants to young adults.

The U-M pediatric liver program provides assessment, treatment and follow-up care for a full range of liver conditions, including:

  • Alagille syndrome
  • alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
  • autoimmune hepatitis
  • biliary atresia
  • cirrhosis
  • hepatitis B and hepatitis C
  • infant jaundice
  • primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Wilson’s disease

Many complex liver conditions are quite rare in children. Most pediatric programs do not see a high volume of patients with these challenging conditions.  C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital has established a one-of-a-kind partnership with adult-medicine colleagues at University of Michigan Health System to merge the extensive experience of U-M’s adult hepatology program with the specialized pediatric expertise of our pediatric gastroenterology team. The result is the capability to provide an unparalleled level of care to children with advanced liver conditions, including:

Liver and Bile Duct Tumors

All childhood liver tumors require careful assessment, and we use state-of-the-art methods including advanced MRI imaging, and (where needed) imaging-directed biopsy to characterize tumors and to develop treatment plans.

Our program includes pediatric radiologists (MRI specialists), interventional radiologists (doctors trained to do procedures using imaging such as imaging-directed liver biopsy), and liver surgeons.

Not all tumors are caused by cancer, but whenever there is suspicion for cancer, we collaborate closely with our pediatric cancer specialists and adult liver cancer specialists to provide management for all types of liver cancer including hepatoblastoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, cholangiocarcinoma, and others.

We have close relationships with U-M’s adult liver specialists and adult cancer specialists, to assist us in the management of children and adolescents with cancers that are more commonly seen in adults. Our multidisciplinary, collaborative team allows us to rapidly characterize liver tumors, and to discuss with experts in each particular area the full range of treatment options for each tumor type in order to provide the best possible outcome for patients.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD ) and Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)

Fat accumulation in the liver can be the consequence of a variety of diseases.  The most common reason for fat in the liver is related to obesity.  As this is a growing problem in the United States, we see more and more patients with this problem. Of particular concern is screening for other potential diseases, especially when the transaminases (liver enzymes) are elevated.  We have developed a specialized approach to this liver problem including specific laboratory diagnostic studies, imaging of the liver, timing of a liver biopsy, and recommended treatment for the problem.

Portal Hypertension

Children can develop portal hypertension (high pressure of blood within the vessels draining to the liver) due to scarring within the liver (cirrhosis), or abnormalities of the liver blood vessels.

Most children with portal hypertension do not require liver transplantation, but all require specialized care to minimize risk of complications. Our center offers a broad array of diagnostic and interventional approaches to help children with portal hypertension.

After the first clinic visit, each case is carefully reviewed by a multidisciplinary team of doctors including liver specialists and surgeons, as well as pediatric radiologists (MRI specialists) and interventional radiologists (doctors trained to do procedures using imaging). This team develops an individualized recommendation for management of the portal hypertension that balances risks and benefits to achieve the best possible outcome. Patients receiving care under within the program can be followed regularly by our liver specialists, often in collaboration with their referring physician. 

Pediatric Liver Transplantation

The University of Michigan Pediatric Liver Transplant Program is the oldest and largest pediatric liver transplant program in Michigan. The program routinely is in the top 12-15 programs in the country with respect to total number of transplants per year, and – more importantly – is among the top programs in the country in terms of quality and outcomes.

We are willing to assess any child for the possible need for liver transplant. The diseases for which we provide liver transplant include, but are not limited to: biliary atresia, tumors and cancers of the liver, autoimmune liver disease including autoimmune hepatitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis, and metabolic liver diseases that can be effectively cured by transplant such as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, urea cycle disorders, and maple syrup urine disease.

Second-opinion consultations

A medical second opinion is a valuable resource when you are faced with a diagnosis of complex liver disease.  The pediatric liver specialists at Mott Children’s Hospital offer second opinion consultations for families whose child has been given a diagnosis of suspected liver disease or liver tumor.

We also provide consultations with referring physicians in the assessment of abnormal liver laboratory results and imaging findings.

Our physicians will work with you and your referring physician to confirm your diagnosis and discuss treatment recommendations.  Should you decide to work with our team for your treatment, our goal is always to work collaboratively with referring physicians and incorporate care that is close to your home whenever possible.

Make an appointment

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 734-763-9650.