Piggy-back versus conventional technique in liver transplantation: report of a randomized trial



Abstract Liver transplantation with preservation of the recipient vena cava (the “piggy-back” technique) has been proposed as an alternative to the traditional method. We performed a randomized study on 39 cirrhotic patients, 20 who underwent the piggy-back technique (group 1) and 19 the traditional method using venovenous bypass (group 2) to evaluate the feasibility and true advantages of the piggyback technique compared to the traditional method. Two patients were switched to the conventional technique due to the presence of a caudate lobe embracing the vena cava in one patient and a caval lesion in the other. Statistically significant differences between the two groups were only found for the warm ischemia time (48.5 ± 13 min for piggy-back vs 60 ± 12 min for the conventional method) and for renal failure (zero cases in group 1 vs four cases in group 2). We therefore believe that liver transplantation with the piggy-back technique can easily be performed in almost all cases, and that only a few, specific situations, such as a very enlarged caudate lobe, do not justify its routine use.