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Abstract

Background:

Hepatic artery thrombosis after liver transplantation remains a significant cause of graft loss and death. Retransplantation is a difficult option after living-related liver transplantation in Japan.

Methods:

Twenty-seven patients underwent living-related liver transplantation with left-sided liver grafts donated from their relatives. The hepatic artery was anastomosed end to end under a surgical microscope. Anticoagulant therapy was maintained for 2 weeks after operation. Routine post-transplant Doppler ultrasonography together with serum blood tests were performed twice a day during the first 2 weeks.

Results:

Three patients developed hepatic artery occlusion, which was identified by routine Doppler ultrasonography before the serum transaminase values increased on days 7, 7 and 3 after surgery respectively. In two of the three patients, no apparent arterial thrombosis was recognized and vasospasm was therefore considered to be the cause of the occlusion. Arterial patency was restored by urgent revascularization with reanastomosis in all patients, but one patient with a functional graft died from a cerebral haemorrhage on day 47.

Conclusion:

Early diagnosis of hepatic artery occlusion by routine Doppler ultrasonography and revascularization of the graft is an indispensable strategy for preventing graft loss after living-related liver transplantation. © 2000 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd