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Keywords:

  • adults;
  • liver re-transplantation;
  • patient and graft survival

Abstract

Objective

To better understand the outcomes and utility of liver re-transplantation in non-hepatitis C patients, we sought to identify predictors that impact post-transplant patient and graft survival comparing primary liver transplant patients to those receiving subsequent allografts.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective cohort analysis using the United Network for Organ Sharing database from February 2002 through December 2012, including non-hepatitis C infected adults (18 yr and older) who underwent primary and repeat liver transplantation. Patient and graft survival were compared between the two groups using the Kaplan–Meier estimator. Cox proportional hazards models were constructed to evaluate variables associated with both patient and graft survival.

Results

We identified 33 176 primary transplant recipients and 2710 re-transplants. Re-transplantation patients were more likely to be on dialysis prior to transplant (18% vs. 10%), hospitalized (26% vs. 16%), in the intensive care unit (ICU) (34% vs. 13%), on a ventilator (17% vs. 3%), and had higher model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score (27 vs. 21). Re-transplants also received livers with a lower donor risk index (DRI) (1.57 vs. 1.64). We estimated an adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of 1.7 for patient survival (95% CI: 1.56–1.84) and 1.61 (95% CI: 1.5–1.73) for graft survival.

Conclusions

Liver re-transplantation in non-hepatitis C patients, although life saving, has significantly inferior patient and graft survival compared to primary liver transplantation. Higher quality grafts are used inefficiently in a sicker patient population, suggesting that a more optimal strategy may include restricting their use to patients who obtain a longer term benefit.