Poor survival after liver retransplantation: Is hepatitis C to blame?



Data from 1990 to 1996 suggest that the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in repeated orthotopic liver transplantation (re-OLT) is increasing, and patient survival may be worse. Aims of the study are to: (1) assess the prevalence of HCV in re-OLT, (2) compare survival between primary OLT and re-OLT for HCV versus non-HCV diseases, and (3) evaluate Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) scores in re-OLT. The United Network for Organ Sharing database for adult patients undergoing primary OLT or re-OLT from January 1996 to June 2002 was analyzed. Patients with malignancy or those who underwent re-OLT within 30 days of primary OLT were excluded. A total of 22,120 primary OLTs and 2,129 re-OLTs were performed. HCV was noted in 9,564 primary OLTs (43.2%) and 899 re-OLTs (42.2%). Overall 1, 3, and 5-year patient survival rates were 86%, 79%, and 73% for primary OLT, but 67%, 56%, and 52% for re-OLT (P < .001). Survival rates of patients with HCV at 1, 3, and 5 years were 86%, 76%, and 68% for primary OLT and 61%, 50%, and 45% for re-OLT (P < .001). Survival was less for patients with HCV compared with those with autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) and hepatitis B for re-OLT (P < .01). However, survival after re-OLT was no different for those with HCV than for those with all other causes. MELD scores between 11 and 20 were the most common for re-OLT. A marked decreased in survival was noted in all patients who underwent re-OLT with MELD scores greater than 25. HCV prevalence in OLT has reached a plateau in recent years. Survival after re-OLT is inferior to that for primary OLT, but re-OLT survival appears to have improved. Survival after re-OLT is lower in patients with HCV compared with those with AIH and hepatitis B, but no different than for those with most other liver diseases. Survival appeared worse in patients who underwent re-OLT with a MELD score greater than 25.