Cool Perfusion –Better Liver Transplant Outcomes

R van Rijn et al. NEJM 2021; 384: 1391-1401. Hypothermic Machine Perfusion in Liver Transplantation — A Randomized Trial

Background: Nonanastomotic biliary strictures are a major complication after liver transplantation, and ischemia–reperfusion injury is a key mechanism in their development. Although static cold preservation provides some protection against injury, preclinical studies have shown that a short period of hypothermic oxygenated machine perfusion restores mitochondrial function and reduces damage.

Methods: In this multicenter, controlled trial, we randomly assigned patients who were undergoing transplantation of a liver obtained from a donor after circulatory death to receive that liver either after hypothermic oxygenated machine perfusion (machine-perfusion group) or after conventional static cold storage alone (control group). A total of 160 patients were enrolled, of whom 78 received a machine-perfused liver and 78 received a liver after static cold storage only (4 patients did not receive a liver in this trial).

Key points:

  • Nonanastomotic biliary strictures occurred in 6% of the patients in the machine-perfusion group and in 18% of those in the control group, risk ratio, 0.36
  •  Postreperfusion syndrome occurred in 12% of the recipients of a machine-perfused liver and in 27% of those in the control group; risk ratio, 0.43
  • Early allograft dysfunction occurred in 26% of the machine-perfused livers, as compared with 40% of control livers; risk ratio, 0.61

My take: Hypothermic oxygenated machine perfusion led to lower risk of nonanastomotic biliary strictures

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