Vascular Complications of Orthotopic Liver Transplantation: Experience in More than 4,200 Patients

John P. Duffy, Johnny C. Hong, Douglas G. Farmer, Rafik M. Ghobrial, Hasan Yersiz, Jonathan R. Hiatt, Ronald W. Busuttil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

403 Scopus citations


Background: Thromboses of the hepatic artery (HAT) and portal vein (PVT) may complicate orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) and result in graft loss and mortality. Revision and retransplantation are treatment options, but their longterm outcomes remain undefined. This study was undertaken to evaluate the incidence of major vascular complications after OLT, determine efficacy of therapies, and identify factors influencing longterm outcomes. Study Design: All patients undergoing OLT from 1984 to 2007 were evaluated. Kaplan-Meier analysis was performed to define the effects of vascular complications on posttransplant survival. Anastomotic revision and arterial thrombolysis were compared with retransplantation as treatment for HAT. After 2002, porta hepatis dissection was initiated with early occlusion of common hepatic artery (CHA) inflow; its impact on HAT incidence was determined. Results: From 1984 to 2007, 4,234 OLTs were performed. HAT occurred in 203 patients (5%) and PVT in 84 (2%). Graft survival was significantly reduced by HAT or PVT; patient survival was reduced only by PVT. Retransplantation for HAT improved patient survival over revision or thrombolysis in the first year but did not provide longterm survival advantage (56% versus 56% at 5 years; p = 0.53). Patients with HAT had only 10% graft salvage with anastomotic revision or thrombolysis. HAT was significantly reduced with early CHA inflow occlusion (1.1% versus 3.7%; p = 0.002). Factors increasing risk of HAT included pediatric recipients, liver cancer, and aberrant arterial anatomy requiring complex reconstruction. Conclusions: Both HAT and PVT significantly reduce graft survival after OLT; PVT more adversely affects patient survival. Revision and thrombolysis rarely salvage grafts after HAT; retransplantation provides superior short-term, but not longterm, survival. Avoidance of vascular complications in OLT is critical, especially with today's scarcity of donor livers. Early atraumatic CHA occlusion significantly reduces the incidence of HAT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)896-903
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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