Adult hepatic retransplantation. UCL experience

J. Lerut, P. F. Laterre, F. Roggen, E. Mauel, R. Gheerardyn, O. Ciccarelli, M. Donataccio, J. De Ville De Goyet, R. Reding, P. Goffette, A. Geubel, J. B. Otte

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Introduction: Retransplantation is a rescue operation in orthotopic liver transplantation. Its appropriateness has been questioned on medical, economical and also on ethical grounds. Material and methods: During the period february 1984-december 1997, 54 (14.5%) of 372 adult patients were retransplanted; three (0.8%) of them had two retransplantations. Indications were graft dysfunction [(primary non function (8x) and early dysfunction (14 x in 13 patients)], immunological failure [acute (9 x in 8 patients) and chronic (9x) rejection], technical failure [(hepatic artery thrombosis (5 x in four patients), allograft decapsulation (1x), ischaemic biliary tract lesions (6x)] and recurrent viral allograft disease [HBV (4x) and HCV (1x)]. Results: Five year actuarial patient survival after retransplantation was 70.8%, which was identical to this of non retransplanted patients (72%). Early (<3 mo) mortality was significantly lower in elective procedures (9.1% - 2/22 pat. vs 34.4% - 11/32 pat. in urgent procedures p <0,05). Mortality was highest in the graff dysfunction (23.8%, 5/21 pat.) and immunological failure (41%, 7/17 pat.) groups. Five of six patients retransplanted for rejection, whilst being on renal support, and two of three patients retransplanted urgently twice died of infectious complications. All patients retransplanted because of recurrent allograft disease were long-term (> 3 mo) survivors. Both HBV-infected patients died of allograft reinfection 7 months later; the two HBV-Delta infected patients were, free of infection, 44 and 6 months after retransplantation under HBV-immunoprophylaxis. Length of hospitalisation after primary transplantation and retransplantation were identical (median of 16 days- range 11 to 40 vs 14 days (range 7 to 110). Economical study during the period 1990-1995 showed that costs of the first hospitalization of primary transplantation and of retransplantation could be equalized during the period 1994-1995 as a consequence of the more frequent use of elective retransplantation (median 1,3 million BF, range 720.988 to 8.887.145 vs 1.1 million BF, range 943.685 to 1.940.409). Conclusions: Hepatic retransplantation is a successful safety net for many liver transplant patients. Every effort should be made to do this intervention electively under minimal immunosuppression. In case of immunological graff failure and hepatic artery thrombosis retransplantation must be done early in order to avoid infectious complications; the same holds for ischaemic biliary tract lesions which cannot be cured by interventional radiology. Retransplantation for recurrent benign disease should be restricted to those diseases which can be effectively treated by (neo- and) adjuvant antiviral therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-266
Number of pages6
JournalActa Gastro-Enterologica Belgica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Graft dysfunction
  • Liver transplantation
  • Recurrent allograft disease
  • Rejection
  • Retransplantation
  • Technical problems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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