Resolution of alcoholic neuropathy following liver transplantation



Between 10 and 20% of adult liver transplants are performed for end-stage alcoholic liver disease. Severe extrahepatic end-organ damage from alcoholism (cardiomyopathy, pancreatitis, central nervous system injury, and neuropathy) is widely regarded as an absolute contraindication to liver transplantation, despite a lack of data on the effect of transplantation on these complications. We describe such a patient who presented with decompensated alcoholic liver disease and moderately severe peripheral neuropathy. Both his liver failure and neuropathy progressed despite 9 months abstinence and intensive nutritional support. By 12 months post-transplant, however, this patient had regained almost normal muscle strength, with associated recovery in sensory and motor conduction velocities. Direct alcohol toxicity, nutritional and vitamin deficiencies, and liver failure were all likely etiologic factors in this patient's neuropathy. In conclusion, this case suggests that peripheral neuropathy in a patient with alcoholic cirrhosis may resolve following liver transplantation and should not constitute a contraindication to transplantation, even when it is disabling. (Liver Transpl 2004;10:1545–1548.)