Key words Orthotopic liver transplantation
Hepatitis B virus
Hepatitis C virus
Long-term liver transplant survival
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is used as a definitive treatment for end-stage liver disease and prolonged posttransplant survival has already been reported. The incidence of late mortality and graft morbidity is, however, not well defined and the role of primary viral disease in the long-term follow-up results is not clear. Data of posttransplant follow-up in 213 patients, 156 adults and 57 children, who survived at least 1 year were reviewed in order to define causes of graft dysfunction, graft loss and death. In 98 patients, 103 persistent graft dysfunctions were found. Thirty-four grafts were later lost [28 deaths and 6 successful retransplantations (re-OLT)]. The results were reviewed grouping patients according to their age and viral hepatitis status at the time of the transplantation. HBV-positive patients (51) showed 4 re-OLT (1 HBV), 3 liver-related deaths (2 HBV), 24 graft dysfunctions (8 HBV, 5 HCV), and 85.2 % 6-year survival (based on 100 % survival at 1 year). HCV-positive adults (28) showed 1 re-OLT, 3 HCV-related deaths, 24 graft dysfunctions (19 HCV), and 68.8 % 6-year survival. HBV–HCV-positive patients (14) showed no graft loss and death, 10 graft dysfunctions (7 HCV, 1 HBV, 2 HBV–HCV), and 81.8 % 6-year survival. HBV–HCV-negative adults (63) showed 3 non-hepatitis-related re-OLT, 5 liver-related deaths (2 HCV), 24 graft dysfunctions (6 HCV, 2 HBV), and 83.1 % 6-year survival. HBV–HCV-negative children (49) showed no re-OLT, 1 HCV-related death, 14 graft dysfunctions (3 HCV), and 92.6 % 6-year survival. HCV-positive children (8) showed 1 HCV-related re-OLT, 2 HCV-related deaths, 4 graft dysfunctions (3 HCV), and 81.3 % 6-year survival. The main cause of graft dysfunction was hepatitis (45 HCV and 13 HBV), followed by technical complications (21), rejection (16), recurrent alcoholism (3), HIV infection (1), and unknown causes (4). In this long-term posttransplant follow-up series, viral hepatitis led to graft dysfunction in 58/103 (56.3 %) cases, late graft failure was viral hepatitis-related in 11/20 (55 %) cases, and, as a total, HCV infection was present in 45/58 (77.5 %) cases of viral hepatitis-related graft damage. Looking at the timing of hepatitis-related graft failure, in 70 % of cases death occurred after the 5th post-transplant year. In our experience, the occurrence of hepatitis, particularly HCV induced, was common and led to abnormal graft function, but the 6-year posttransplant survival (based on 100 % survival at 1 year) in patients surviving for at least 1 year did not differ on the basis of the pretransplant viral hepatitis status. This finding may be consistent with the slow progression of the viral damage and longer follow-up results remain to be established. Nevertheless, data from the present study suggest that in long-term liver transplant survivors, the risk of deteriorating liver damage and eventual failure after 5 years remains only in those patients experiencing a viral hepatitis infection.
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