Split-liver transplantation: One plus one doesn't always equal two



Surgical reduction of donor livers to treat small children has been performed successfully in several centers. While this procedure improves the allocation of livers, it does not increase the organ supply. We have extended reduced-size orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) to treat 18 patients with 9 livers, accounting for 26% of our transplants during a 10-month period and have evaluated the results. In 18 split liver OLTs, patient survival was 67% and graft survival was 50%. In comparison, for 34 patients treated with full-size OLT during the same period, patient survival was 84% (p = 0.298) and graft survival was 76% (p = 0.126). Biliary complications were significantly more frequent in split grafts, occurring in 27%, as compared to 4% in full-sized grafts (p = 0.017). Primary nonfunction (4% versus 5.5%) and arterial thrombosis (6% versus 9%) occurred with similar frequency in split and full-size OLT (p = not significant). These results demonstrated that split-liver OLT is feasible and could have a substantial impact in transplant practice. We believe that biliary complications can be prevented by technical improvements and that split-liver OLT will improve transplant therapy by making more livers available.

The University of Chicago program in pediatric liver transplantation continues actively to seek innovative surgical solutions to problems related to the management of children with end-stage liver disease. Among the most important problems facing these children is a shortage of donor organs, which results from three factors in addition to the actual supply of pediatric donors: the concentration of pediatric liver disease in the population younger than 2 years; the necessity for a graft that is small enough; and the epidemiology of accidents and other events that lead to organ donation. Transplantation using a liver love as a graft overcomes size disparity and shifts the available supply of organs fromolder donors to tounger recipients. This work describes the technical aspects of recent innovations in the use of liver lobes in pediatric transplantation, simple reduced-size liver transplantation (RLT), split-liver transplantation (SLT), orthotopic auxiliary liver grafting (ALT), and transplantation using a living related donor (LRLT), and compares their results. Since November 1986 a total of 61 procedures have been performed in which a liver lobe was used as a graft: 26 RLT;30 SLT,25 in children and 5 in adults; 5 LRLT; and 1 ALT. Overall 62% of transplants performed in children have involved using a liver lobe as a graft. The rates of ccomplications are somewhat higher than with whole-liver transplantation, but this may not be entirely the result of the complex procedures. Split liver transplantation is associated with complications in donors and recipients, but to date survival is 100%. Orthotopic auxillary liver transplatation effectively corrected the metabolic defect n one patient with ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency. Overall the various modalities of using graft reduction have reduction have resulted in postoperative results similar to those aachieved with full-size grafts, while pretransplantation mortality has been limited to less than 2%. Thous the use of grafts as liver lobes accomplisshes the goal of reducing global mortality among children with end-stage liver disease, but at the cost of increased surgical complexity and more postoperative complications.