Evolving experience with prevention and treatment of splenic artery syndrome after orthotopic liver transplantation


Dr Martina T. Mogl, Department of General, Visceral and Transplant Surgery, Charité Campus Virchow, Humboldt-University Berlin, Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353 Berlin, Germany. Tel.: +49 30 450 652 124; fax: +49 30 450 552 900; e-mail: martina.mogl@charite.de


Impaired hepatic arterial perfusion after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) may lead to ischemic biliary tract lesions and graft-loss. Hampered hepatic arterial blood flow is observed in patients with hypersplenism, often described as arterial steal syndrome (ASS). However, arterial and portal perfusions are directly linked via the hepatic arterial buffer response (HABR). Recently, the term ‘splenic artery syndrome’ (SAS) was coined to describe the effect of portal hyperperfusion leading to diminished hepatic arterial blood flow. We retrospectively analyzed 650 transplantations in 585 patients. According to preoperative imaging, 78 patients underwent prophylactic intraoperative ligation of the splenic artery. In case of postoperative SAS, coil-embolization of the splenic artery was performed. After exclusion of 14 2nd and 3rd retransplantations and 83 procedures with arterial interposition grafts, SAS was diagnosed in 28 of 553 transplantations (5.1%). Twenty-six patients were treated with coil-embolization, leading to improved liver function, but requiring postinterventional splenectomy in two patients. Additionally, two patients with SAS underwent splenectomy or retransplantation without preceding embolization. Prophylactic ligation could not prevent SAS entirely (= 2), but resulted in a significantly lower rate of complications than postoperative coil-embolization. We recommend prophylactic ligation of the splenic artery for patients at risk of developing SAS. Post-transplant coil-embolization of the splenic artery corrected hemodynamic changes of SAS, but was associated with a significant morbidity.