Venous complications after orthotopic liver transplantation

Authors


Corresponding author: Utz Settmacher, MD, Department of Surgery, Charité, Virchow-Klinikum Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353 Berlin, Germany. Tel.: +49 30 4505 2001; fax: +49 30 4505 2900; e-mail: utz.settmacher@charite.de

Abstract

Complications involving the portal vein or the vena cava, are rare after orthotopic liver transplantation. We report on the incidence and treatment of venous complications following 1000 orthotopic liver transplantations in 911 patients. Twenty-six of the adult patients (2.7%) suffered from portal complications after transplantation, whereas complications of the vena cava were observed in only 17 patients (1.8%). Technical problems or recurrence of the underlying disease (e.g. Budd–Chiari syndrome) accounted for the majority of complications of the vena cava, whereas alteration of the vessel wall or splenectomy during transplantation could be identified as important risk factors for portal vein complications. In patients undergoing modification of the standard end-to-end veno-venous anastomosis of the portal vein due to pathological changes of the vessel wall, complications occurred in 8.3%, whereas only 2.4% of patients who received a standard anastomosis of the portal vein experienced complications of the portal vein. Furthermore, splenectomy during transplantation was also associated with an increased incidence of portal vein complications (10.5 vs. 2.2% in patients without splenectomy). Treatment was dependent on the signs and symptoms of the patients, and varied considerably between patients with portal vein complications and patients suffering from complications of the vena cava. Complications of the vena cava led to retransplantation in about one-third of the patients, whereas in patients with occlusion of the portal vein, retransplantation was necessary in only 15%, and more than half of the patients suffering from portal vein complications did not require any treatment at all. Usually, treatment of patients with portal vein complications only became necessary when additional complications such as arterial occlusion or bile duct injuries occurred.

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