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Etiology and management of hepatic artery thrombosis after adult liver transplantation

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Published:25th Mar 2020

Hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT) represents a major cause of graft loss and mortality after liver transplantation. It occurs in up to 9% of adult recipients. The early diagnosis of HAT decreases septic complications, multiorgan failure, and graft loss, and there are better outcomes after treatment. In this study, we reviewed 102 episodes of HAT, which were classified as early hepatic artery thrombosis (E-HAT) when they were diagnosed within the first 21 days after transplantation. The overall incidence of HAT was 7%: 31 episodes (30.4%) were identified as E-HAT, and 71 episodes (69.6%) were identified as late hepatic artery thrombosis (L-HAT). Graft dysfunction was the commonest presentation (30 cases or 29%). Most E-HAT cases were managed with retransplantation (74%), whereas early revascularization was carried out for only 13% with a 75% success rate. The incidence of retransplantation for L-HAT was only 41%, whereas 32% were too ill for relisting and eventually died. Successful conservative management was noted for 13 of the 102 patients (13%) with collateralization and good hepatic perfusion, with biliary complications encountered in 7 cases (54%) subsequently. A multivariate analysis showed that previous episodes of HAT, the number of arterial anastomoses, and a low donor weight were independent risk factors for E-HAT, whereas a history of upper abdominal operations (non-HAT), a previous history of HAT, a low donor weight, and a recipient age < 50 years were independent risk factors for L-HAT. The graft survival rates for HAT patients were 52%, 36.6%, and 27.4% at 1, 3, and 5 years, whereas the corresponding rates were 81.4%, 81.2%, and 76.4% for non-HAT patients. In conclusion, prompt revascularization for E-HAT patients decreases the incidence of serious, irreversible septic complications and graft loss and improves overall outcomes. A significant number of L-HAT patients do not require further intervention despite the high incidence of ischemic cholangiopathy.

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