• acute cellular rejection;
  • liver transplantation;
  • primary graft non-function;
  • vascular complications

Abstract:  Despite satisfactory overall results reported, early post-operative period after liver transplantation (LT) still represents a critical time with persistently high rate of graft loss. We retrospectively reviewed our experience of 17 yr in LT, analysing the impact on grafts and patient survivals of the acute complications affecting the graft in the early period following LT. To evaluate the changes that occurred over the years in case of early acute graft failure (EAGF), the study population was divided into three equal groups of 223 patients corresponding to three different periods. Ninety (13.5%) experienced an EAGF. Causes of EAGF were hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT) in 32 cases (4.8%), primary graft non-function in 29 cases (4.3%), caval stenosis in 19 (2.8%), early irreversible acute rejection in 6 (0.9%) and portal vein thrombosis in 4 (0.6%). The use of elderly donors and the introduction of the piggyback technique proved to be associated with a higher incidence of HAT and caval stenosis, respectively. Female recipients of male donors were independently associated with Primary graft non-function. Of 90 patients with EAGF, 20 (22.2%) died within the first month after LT, 34 (37.8%) underwent retransplantation (ReLT) and 36 (40%) received conservative treatment. Conservative treatments increased from 3.6% in the first group to 47.0 and 66.8% in the second and third one (p = 0.000). One-year graft and patient survival of patients with EAGF significantly improved over the three eras analysed. The incidence of EAGF remains consistent. Nevertheless, a better understanding of the clinical situations and changes in treatment strategies have led to significant improvements in terms of graft and patient survival rates, now close to the survival rate of EAGF-free patients.