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Keywords:

  • Hepatopulmonary syndrome;
  • liver transplantation;
  • living donor;
  • transplantation;
  • posttransplant complications

Hepatopulmonary syndrome (HPS) is present in 10–32% of chronic liver disease patients, carries a poor prognosis and is treatable by liver transplantation (LT). Previous reports have shown high LT mortality in HPS and severe HPS (arterial oxygen (PaO2) ≤50 mmHg). We reviewed outcomes in HPS patients who received LT between 2002 and 2008 at two transplant centers supported by a dedicated HPS clinic. We assessed mortality, complications and gas exchange in 21 HPS patients (mean age 51 years, MELD score 14), including 11/21 (52%) with severe HPS and 5/21 (24%) with living donor LT (median follow-up 20.2 months after LT). Overall mortality was 1/21 (5%); mortality in severe HPS was 1/11 (9%). Peritransplant hypoxemic respiratory failure occurred in 5/21 (24%), biliary complications in 8/21 (38%) and bleeding or vascular complications in 6/21 (29%). Oxygenation improved in all 19 patients in whom PaO2 or SaO2 were recorded. PaO2 increased from 52.2 ± 13.2 to 90.3 ± 11.5 mmHg (room air) (p < 0.0001) (12 patients); a higher baseline macroaggregated albumin shunt fraction predicted a lower rate of postoperative improvement (p = 0.045) (7 patients). Liver transplant survival in HPS and severe HPS was higher than previously demonstrated. Severity of HPS should not be the basis for transplant refusal.