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Keywords:

  • Graft survival;
  • hepatic artery thrombosis;
  • liver transplantation in children;
  • long-term outcome;
  • surgical emergency revascularization

Hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT), one of the most severe complications of pediatric orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT), often compromises graft and/or child survival. Of 590 OLT performed in 516 children over a 20-year period, 45 were complicated by early HAT, during the first 2 weeks after transplantation. Systematic Doppler ultrasonographic detection of HAT allowed successful surgical revascularization in 19 instances, resulting in a 20-year graft survival rate of 77% versus 24% of cases when revascularization was not attempted or failed. A combination of surgical emergency revascularization, biliary interventional radiology, biliary surgery and/or retransplantation resulted in an 80% 20-year patient survival rate, identical to that of transplanted children who did not experience early HAT. The majority of long-term survivors with their initial graft had normal liver tests, no biliary dilation on ultrasonography and minimal or moderate fibrosis on liver histology. A failed attempt at revascularization did not significantly alter patient survival. Despite these encouraging results, for the children and their parents to overcome the entire process in terms of reoperations, repeated radiological interventions, number of hospitalizations and emotional stress, remains an ordeal of such magnitude that it justifies renewed efforts to progress in the prevention of this complication.