Hepatitis C is a risk factor for death after liver retransplantation


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Retransplantation for liver allograft failure associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been increasing due to nearly universal posttransplant HCV recurrence and has been demonstrated to be associated with poor outcomes. We report on the risk factors for death after retransplantation among liver recipients with HCV. A retrospective cohort of liver transplant recipients who underwent retransplantation between January 1997 and December 2002 was identified in the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients database. Cox regression was used to assess the relative effect of HCV diagnosis on mortality risk after retransplantation and was adjusted for multiple covariates. Of 1,718 liver retransplantations during the study period, 464 (27%) were associated with a diagnosis of HCV infection. Based on Cox regression, retransplant recipients with HCV had a 30% higher covariate-adjusted mortality risk than those without HCV diagnosis (hazard ratio [HR], 1.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10-1.54; P = 0.002). Other covariates associated with significant relative risk of death after retransplantation included older recipient age, presence in an intensive care unit (ICU), serum creatinine, and donor age. Additional regression analysis revealed that the increase in mortality risk associated with HCV was concentrated between 3 and 24 months postretransplantation, among patients age 18 to 39 at retransplant, and in patients retransplanted during the years 2000 to 2002. In conclusion, HCV liver recipients account for a considerable proportion of all retransplantations performed. Surprisingly, younger age predicted a higher mortality for recipients with HCV undergoing liver retransplantation. This may reflect a willingness to retransplant younger patients with an increased severity of illness or a more virulent HCV infection in this population. Although HCV was predictive of an increased risk of death, consideration of other characteristics of HCV patients, including donor and recipient age and need for preoperative ICU care may identify those at significantly higher risk. (Liver Transpl 2005;11:434–440.)