Alive and well? 10 years after liver transplantation

As survival has improved with liver transplantation (LT), long-term health outcomes have become more important.  Reported 5-year survival rate after pediatric LT in North America is >85%.  More data on long-term health consequences are provided in a review of 167 10-year survivors from a North American Database (Studies of Pediatric Liver Transplantation –SPLIT) (J Pediatr 2012; 160: 820-6).

Ng VL et al report on frequency of comorbidities as well as quality of life.  Of the 10-year survivors who were included in this study: 85 (50.9%) were transplanted in the first year of life; 69 (41.3%) received transplants between 1-7.9 years.  Biliary atresia accounted for 55.1% of the transplanted cohort; the remainder were due to the following: metabolic liver disease 23 (13.8%), acute liver failure 18 (10.8%), other cholestatic conditions 17 (10.2%), tumor 6 (3.6%), and other 11 (6.6%).

First allograft survival rates were 94% at 1 year and 88% at 10 years.   Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) as assessed by the PedsQL 4.0 Generic Core Scales revealed lower patient self-reported total scale scores for LT survivors compared with healthy children (77.2 vs 84.9, P<.001).  14% had HRQOL >2 SDs below that of a matched healthy population.  Other specific post-LT morbidities included the following:

  • Impaired linear growth (23% <10th percentile); ongoing steroid therapy was associated with increased risk of poor linear growth.
  • Renal dysfunction (9%) –defined as calculated glomerular filtration rate <90 mL/min/1.73 m2.
  • Hyperlipidemia: 20% with hypercholesterolemia, and 26% with hypertriglyciridemia
  • Lymphoproliferative disease (5%).  EBV seroconversion occurred in 46 (47%) of 97 who had been EBV-negative prior to LT.  25 (15%) developed symptomatic EBV infection.
  • School performance: 32 (23%) had repeated a grade or were held back at least 1 school year.
  • Liver fibrosis: at 10 years, elevated aminotransferases were noted in 11% and increased gamma gluatmyl transpeptidase in 15%.  Previous studies from SPLIT indicate fibrosis is common in long-term survivors even with good clinical outcomes.

Alive and well?  While survival has improved remarkably, better outcomes are still needed.

Related posts:

Picking winners and losers with liver transplantation allocation

Good care 24/7

Big gift, how much risk

Additional references:


  • -Pediatrics 2008; 122: 1128-35.  Outcomes of 461 pediatric LT.
  • -Am J Transplant 2008; 8: 2506-13.  Improving long-term outcomes of LT.
  • -Hepatolog 2009; 49: 880-6.  LT-Liver fibrosis at 10 year followup.
  • -JPGN 2008; 47: 165. ~50% below 1.3 SD of adult height. Many show partial catch up growth.
  • -Liver Transplant 2006; 12: 1310. Review article on nutrition for OLTx patient.

2 thoughts on “Alive and well? 10 years after liver transplantation

  1. Pingback: Growth after Liver Transplantation | gutsandgrowth

  2. Pingback: What to Expect After Pediatric Liver Transplantation: Cognitive Function and Quality of Life | gutsandgrowth

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