• Liver transplantation;
  • portosystemic shunts -Portosystemic shunts;
  • liver transplantation

Abstract. Spontaneous portosystemic shunts are commonly found in cirrhotic patients. Not yet established is their role after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLTx), especially when an increase in portal pressure develops, as during early acute rejection. In this study, 34 cirrhotic patients in a series of 70 OLTx are considered. Each patient had preoperative angiographic assessment, and, in 21 (62 %), large spontaneous portosystemic shunts were evident. In 12 cases the shunts were not affected by the surgical procedure and were present during the postoperative period; in 9 the hepatectomy itself involved interruption of the shunts. The patient population was divided into two groups: patients with postoperative shunts (n = 12) and those without (n= 22). The two groups were similar in age, sex. Child's stage, transplantation variables, and number and grade of rejection episodes. However, mean transaminases (AST) values in the first 2 weeks were significantly higher levels in shunt versus nonshunt patients (421 ± 335 vs 183 ± 126; P < 0.025), and this was even more evident when rejection occurred (626 + 375 vs 195 ±129; P < 0.001). Furthermore, during an acute rejection reaction, three cases showed a true “steal phenomenon” through the large reopened shunts with ischemic damage to the grafts. The data indicate a possible detrimental effect of the spontaneous shunts on graft perfusion and suggest the prophylactic surgical interruption of the residual shunts during the transplantation.