The thyroid hormones T4, T3, rT3 and TSH were assayed in 134 adult patients evaluated and accepted as potential liver transplant candidates at the Universty of Pittsburgh from March, 1981 to December, 1983. The subsequent course of these patients was evaluated with respect to the levels of these hormones obtained at the time of acceptance for transplantation. T4 levels were increased significantly while their T3 levels were reduced (both p < 0.01) in those who survived and were discharged home as compared to either those who died waiting to be transplanted or died following the procedure. As a result, the ratio of T3/T4 was reduced markedly (p < 0.01) in those who were transplanted and survived as compared to those not transplanted or dying following transplantation. Importantly, the rT3 levels clearly separated (p < 0.01) those who would die prior to transplantation from those who would survive to be transplanted. Finally, the ratio rT3/T3 even more clearly separates those who will die prior to transplantation (p < 0.01) from the other two groups.
These data suggest that thyroid hormone levels, particularly rT3 levels, might be useful in setting priorities for which patients referred for a transplantation evaluation should be accepted into the program and in determining who among accepted patients should be operated upon in preference to others also accepted and waiting to be transplanted.