Liver and Hepatitis Program
The Liver and Hepatitis Program at Massachusetts General Hospital provides expert consultation and state-of-the-art care for patients with acute and chronic liver conditions, including curative therapies for hepatitis C virus (HCV)
- Request an appointment online
- For more information or to make an appointment, please call 617-724-6006
Expert Care for All Types of Liver Conditions
Our liver specialists (hepatologists) are internationally recognized for their expertise in treating patients with all types of liver conditions, ranging from the common to the exceedingly rare. Our expertise includes challenging conditions such as chronic viral hepatitis (hepatitis C or hepatitis B), fatty liver, inherited liver diseases including hemochromatosis, autoimmune liver diseases, cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, hepatocellular (liver) cancer, cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) and liver metastases from other cancers.
State of the Art Hepatitis C Care
Dramatically improved, well-tolerated, all-oral treatments are now available for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Curing HCV will significantly reduce the long-term risks of liver disease and liver cancer. These developments make the diagnosis of HCV even more urgent. More than half of persons with HCV do not know they have it. Thus, the U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends a one-time HCV antibody test for anyone born between 1945 and 1965 as well as those with risk factors for viral hepatitis.
The MGH Liver and Hepatitis Program has treated patients with HCV infection for many years with good success. Now, with the recent approval of state-of-the-art oral medications for HCV, we are poised to cure over 90% of persons infected with any genotype (strain) and at any stage of HCV.
A Collaborative Approach to Liver Care
Using state-of-the-art technology and leading-edge medical and surgical interventions, we are able to provide for our patients advanced and timely diagnosis followed by individualized and ongoing care. Our physicians work closely with other specialists in the Liver Center of the Digestive Healthcare Center.
Each patient’s treatment is provided by a personal care team headed by the liver specialist. The liver specialist meets regularly with the other team members to review individual patient’s cases and update treatment plans. The team works with both the patient and the referring physicians to coordinate a care plan designed to produce the best possible outcome. In addition to the hepatologist, our team includes interventional endoscopists, interventional/vascular radiologists, medical and surgical oncologists, liver surgeons, transplant surgeons, and pathologists. The staff of the Fatty Liver Clinic also collaborate with the Weight Center to treat and manage fatty liver disease.
Specialized Treatment Begins With Advanced Diagnostics
We offer all patients, both in the hospital and out, access to a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. These include noninvasive alternatives to liver biopsy as a means of assessing the extent of liver damage (fibrosis). Our Liver Center now offers a new noninvasive test known as transient elastography (Fibroscan), an ultrasound-like test which can safely and accurately assess the extent of long-term damage from hepatitis C and many other liver conditions. We also provide a rapid turnaround time and expert analysis of test findings 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. One of our physicians is available around the clock to confer with referring physicians.
Our diagnostic radiology colleagues are dedicated imaging specialists whose practice focuses specifically on GI scans. They are nationally recognized for expertise in all forms of sophisticated imaging of the liver, including: CT scans, PET and fused PET-CT scans, MRI scans with diffusion-weighted images, liver biopsies under ultrasound or CT guidance, bile duct imaging, and GI interventional procedures including biliary drainage and vascular shunt procedures (TIPS), as well as radiofrequency ablation, chemoembolization, and radioembolization of liver tumors. We are also working with our radiology colleagues to develop other noninvasive alternatives to liver biopsy.
Pioneering Advanced Treatment Options
We were among the first centers in the world to introduce antiviral therapies for hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) infection.
Patients have access to novel treatments through ongoing research initiatives, including:
- New therapies for hepatitis C that offer very high cure rates, in excess of 90%
- Novel therapies for difficult to treat hepatitis C based on discoveries from our laboratories
- New drugs and combinations against chronic hepatitis B as part of the NIH Hepatitis B Clinical Trials Network
- Clinical trials of agents to slow progression of liver scarring
- Clinical trials for fatty liver disease
- Clinical trials for primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and the opportunity to participate in the MGH PSC Registry
- Clinical trials of new agents to treat hepatic encephalopathy, an important complication of cirrhosis
- Extracorporeal liver assist devices, which perform the liver’s function outside of the body, to help bridge patients with acute liver failure to transplantation
- Trials of new diagnostic devices that may complement or substitute for liver biopsy
- Blood tests to identify patients with liver disease who are at higher risk for cirrhosis and liver cancer
State-of-the-Art Transplant Care
Our liver doctors evaluate and manage the medical needs of all patients awaiting liver transplantation. Potential candidates for liver transplant surgery are evaluated by a multidisciplinary group of caregivers in our Mass General Transplant Center. Our transplant surgeons perform all types of liver transplants in both adults and children, including:
- Deceased donor
- Living donor
- Split liver, which involves taking a liver from a living donor and dividing it between an adult and pediatric patient
- Domino, a procedure in which a patient receives a liver that is healthier than their own from a patient who has received a transplant
Minimally Invasive Treatment Options
Whenever possible, patients undergo minimally invasive treatment, which has the benefit of faster recovery times, smaller surgical scars and reduced risk. Minimally invasive surgical procedures include: liver resections, as well as radiofrequency ablation, chemoembolization, radioembolization, and proton beam therapy of liver tumors, all performed in conjunction with the Mass General Cancer Center.
We were one of the first hospitals in the United States to perform radiofrequency ablation of a liver tumor, a procedure that destroys liver tumors by heating and killing cancer cells.
One Call Coordinates Care
We provide patients and referring physicians with an experienced access coordinator, a clinician who is available to assess patients’ needs and coordinate appointments.
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About This Program
One of the largest liver programs in New England, we have in-depth experience treating patients with all types of liver conditions, including:
- Chronic hepatitis C
- Chronic hepatitis B
- Acute and fulminant liver failure
- Alcoholic liver disease
- Autoimmune liver disease
- Cholestatic liver disease, caused by injury to the bile ducts
- End-stage liver disease and cirrhosis
- Fatty liver disease
- Hepatocellular carcinoma and other primary cancers of the liver, bile ducts and gallbladder
- Hereditary liver diseases (e.g., hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease)
- Primary and secondary liver cancers
A Dedicated Referral Line for Physicians and Patients
We provide patients and referring physicians with an experienced access coordinator, a clinician who helps assess patient needs and coordinate appointments. Contact the Liver and Hepatitis Program Access Coordinator
Calls will be returned by the end of the next business day.
Comprehensive Liver Care
Our team approach to care ensures each patient benefits from a coordinated, individualized treatment plan developed by specialists who focus on treating liver conditions. Our services include:
- Clinical trials of novel antiviral therapies for hepatitis C and hepatitis B
- Clinical trials of therapies for fatty liver
- Clinical trials of therapies for primary sclerosing cholangitis
- Liver transplantation
- Medical management of and treatment for cirrhosis
- Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunts (TIPS), treatment for complications of severe liver disease
- Hepatic resection, removal of part of the liver in patients with tumors
- Percutaneous ablation of tumors (using ethanol or radiofrequency), incision-free treatment for tumors
- Transarterial chemoembolization or radioembolization for hepatic tumors
- Proton beam therapy for hepatic tumors
- Image-directed biopsy, targeted imaging technique to diagnose tumors
- Clinical trials of the latest cancer therapies
Unmatched Experience in Hepatobiliary Care
We have one of the highest volumes of referrals for outpatient hepatology visits in the Northeast.
Our surgeons are nationally recognized experts in treating hepatobiliary disease, which includes diseases of the liver, gall bladder and bile ducts. Our surgeons perform some of the highest volumes of liver resections in New England. Learn more about liver surgery in the Department of Surgery
Clinical Research Studies & Trials
Our physicians are active in clinical trials and research studies related to liver conditions, allowing us to bring our patients promising new treatments as quickly as possible.
Mass General is one of nine centers nationwide to participate in a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study of antiviral therapy for chronic Hepatitis C, The HALT-C (Hepatitis C Antiviral Longterm Treatment against Cirrhosis) trial, which seeks therapies for patients who have not responded to previous treatment.
MGH is also one of ten centers nationwide to participate in a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study of antiviral therapy for chronic Hepatitis B, the HBV Clinical Research Network, which seeks to test novel combinations of therapy to increase eradication rates of chronic HBV infection.
Patients interested in participating in clinical trials can browse online for open trials.
Alcohol-induced liver disease, as the name implies, is caused by excessive consumption of alcohol and is a common, but preventable, disease.
Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver, resulting in liver cell damage and destruction. Alcoholic hepatitis is a complex problem and is a precursor to chronic liver disease and cirrhosis.
Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver, resulting in liver cell damage and destruction. In autoimmune hepatitis, the body's own immune system destroys liver cells.
Chronic liver disease is marked by the gradual destruction of liver tissue over time. Several liver diseases fall under this category, including cirrhosis of the liver and fibrosis of the liver.
Congenital liver defects are rare liver diseases present at birth such as biliary atresia, when the bile ducts are absent or have developed abnormally, and choledochal cyst, a malformation of the hepatic duct that can obstruct flow of bile in infants.
Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver, resulting in liver cell damage and destruction. Drug-induced hepatitis is rare and is caused by toxic exposure to certain medications, vitamins, herbal remedies, or food supplements.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious and sometimes serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus.
Hepatitis B is a blood-borne microorganism transmitted by exposure to the hepatitis B virus through infectious body fluids.
Hepatitis C (once called non-A, non-B hepatitis) is a liver disease caused by a recently identified blood-borne virus.
Tumors are abnormal masses of tissue that form when cells begin to reproduce at an increased rate. The liver can grow both non-cancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) tumors.
An autoimmune disorder is any reaction or attack of a person's immune system against its own organs and tissues.
The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.
Current and former fellows and program mentors reunited Sept. 21 at the Liberty Hotel to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the MGH Administrative Fellowship Program.
The MGH Wellness Center and Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine offers group mind-body intervention as a plausible option for treating anxiety and depression.
- Request an appointment online
- For more information or to make an appointment, please call 617-724-6006