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Living Donor Liver Transplantation in Acute Liver Failure Patients with Grade IV Encephalopathy: Is Deep Hepatic Coma Still an Absolute Contraindication? A Successful Single-Center Experience

Horng-Ren Yang, Ashok Thorat, Long-Bin Jeng, Shih-Chao Hsu, Ping-Chun Li, Chun-Chieh Yeh, Te-Hung Chen, Kin-SHing Poon

(Organ Transplantation Center, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan)

Ann Transplant 2018; 23:176-181

DOI: 10.12659/AOT.907274

BACKGROUND: The prognosis of the patients of acute liver failure (ALF) with onset of hepatic coma is often dismal. ALF is a well-accepted indication for liver transplantation (LT) and has markedly improved the prognosis of these patients. However, its role in ALF patients with onset of hepatic coma has never been elucidated before. The aim of our study was to analyze the outcome in patients of ALF with hepatic coma who underwent LT.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: From January 2002 to December 2015, a total of 726 liver transplantations were done at China Medical University Hospital, Taiwan. The hospital database of 59 recipients that underwent LT for ALF was analyzed. Eleven ALF patients with the onset of hepatic coma (grade IV encephalopathy) requiring mechanical ventilatory support were retrospectively analyzed. The patients were sub-grouped in 2 groups depending on the timing of LT after the onset of hepatic coma: Group A had LT within 48 h of onset of coma (n=7) and Group B had LT after 48 h of onset of coma (n=4).
RESULTS: The study cohort (group A and B) comprised 8 males and 3 females, with an average age of 39.63±13.95 years (range, 13 to 63). Ten patients received living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) and deceased donor liver transplantation (DDLT) was done in 1 recipient. All the patients in group A had complete neurological recovery and were extubated within 48 h after LT, whereas extubation was delayed for various reasons for group B patients. At a mean follow up of 36 months (range, 20 to 76 months), the overall survival of all the recipients (group A and B) was 72%. Three-year survival for Group A (n=7) was 85% and for Group B (n=4) it was 50%. There were no acute rejection episodes.
CONCLUSIONS: LT is an acceptable modality of treatment for patients of ALF with new onset of hepatic coma. Neurological recovery is expected in all patients if LT can be done within 48 h of onset of hepatic coma without increasing the risk of morbidity. Due to shortage of deceased donor organs in Asia, LDLT can be used proactively, with a success rate comparable to that of non-ALF patients undergoing LT.

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