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Abstract

The prognosis for patients with fulminant (FHF) or subfulminant hepatic failure (SFHF) has improved since the introduction of liver transplantation. However, the death rate of patients awaiting liver transplantation is high, possibly because of the difficulty in obtaining grafts in a timely manner, given the relative shortage of cadaveric donors. Between June 1990 and June 1999, 106 patients underwent living-related liver transplantation (LRLT) at Shinshu University Hospital. Among them, 8 patients had FHF and 6 had SFHF; these 14 patients are the subjects of this report. The graft volumes (GV) ranged from 231 mL to 625 mL, corresponding to 35% to 105% of the recipients' standard liver volume (SLV). The postoperative courses of all donors were uneventful. Following liver transplantation, all grafts functioned favorably, with normalization of serum total bilirubin within 3 to 5 days and normalization of coagulation profiles within 4 to 7 days. Thirteen of the 14 recipients are still alive. The actuarial 6-month, 1-year, and 5-year survival rates were 100%, 90%, and 90%, respectively. In the present study, when the ratio of the GV to the recipient's SLV was more than 35%, the graft was able to support the patient's metabolic demand after liver transplantation for FHF or SFHF. Because of the urgent nature of liver transplantation in this clinical condition, concerns over informed consent may be even greater than for elective LRLT. Nevertheless, the high success rate and low donor risk may justify this option for pediatric patients, as well as for a limited population of adult patients suffering from FHF or SFHF.