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Abstract

Protoporphyria is a genetic disorder in which patients may develop severe protoporphyrin-induced liver damage and require transplantation. Because unique problems occur in the perioperative period and because excess production of protoporphyrin by the bone marrow continues after liver transplantation, the efficacy of this procedure for protoporphyric liver disease is uncertain. We present follow-up of nine patients who underwent liver transplantation. Two patients died within 2 months of transplantation, one from complications of abdominal bleeding and the other from sepsis after bowel perforations. The remaining seven patients had follow-up at 14 months to 8 years after transplantation (mean, 3.8 years). Two of the seven had suffered skin burns from exposure to operating room lights, which healed without scarring. Three had axonal neuropathies in the postoperative period requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation, and motor defects persisted in two. Five patients had normal liver chemistries at follow-up (mean, 3.5 years), with liver biopsy results normal or showing mild portal triad abnormalities, but erythrocyte protoporphyrin levels remained significantly elevated (1,765 ± 365 mcg/ dL; normal, <65). The other two patients, both of whom had rejection, cytomegalovirus infection, and biliary tract obstruction requiring endoscopic therapy, had a recurrence of protoporphyric liver disease as indicated by liver biopsy features. One died 5 years after transplantation from complications of the liver disease. The other was stable 3.3 years after transplantation and was being monitored for possible retransplantation. Thus, liver transplantation can be performed successfully in patients with protoporphyric liver disease, with intermediate survival rates comparable to the general transplant population. However, disease may recur in the graft, particularly if there are complications that cause cholestasis. Copyright © 1996 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.