The technical and medical management of small infants requiring orthotopic liver transplantation remains a challenge. The present study examined 117 orthotopic liver transplantations performed in 101 infants from <1 to 23 months of age between March 1988 and February 1995 to determine factors that influence patient and graft outcome. Factors analyzed included etiology of liver disease, recipient and donor age and weight, United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) status, retransplantation, ABO-compatibility, full-size (FS) versus reduced-size grafts, vascular thrombosis (VT), including hepatic artery and portal vein (PVT), and the presence of lymphoproliferative disease (LPD). UNOS status 1, fulminant hepatic failure, and the development of Epstein-Barr virus-associated LPD were each associated with 10-20% lower patient and graft survival rates. Of 101 infants, 11 (11%) developed LPD with an associated 36% mortality. VT occurred in 10 (9 hepatic artery and 1 portal vein) of 117 orthotopic liver transplantations (9%), all less than 1 year of age, and was associated with significantly poorer 1-year (50% vs. 85% no VT, P<0.01) and 5-year patient survival rates (50% vs. 83% no VT, P<0.01). One-year graft survival rates for FS grafts in recipients <12 months versus 12-23 months were 67% vs. 94% (P<0.01); the patient survival rate was also significantly lower in FS graft recipients <12 months (76% vs. 100%, P<0.05). Recipients <5 months of age had the worst survival rates: 1-year and 5-year patient survival rates were 65% and 46% for recipients 0-4 months (n=17) versus 82% and 82% for recipients 5-11 months (n=56), and 93% and 93% for recipients age 12-23 months (n=28; P<0.05). In summary, factors associated with reduced survival rates include recipient age <5 months, recipient age <12 months who received FS grafts, development of VT and donor weight <6 kg. There was a trend for UNOS status 1, fulminant hepatic failure, and presence of LPD to be associated with reduced survival rates.
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