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Retransplantation for Recurrent Hepatitis C

Patricia A. Sheiner, Leona Kim Schluger, Sukru Emre, Swan N. Thung, Johnson Y.N. Lau, Stephen R. Guy, Myron E. Schwartz, and Charles M. Miller
Journal: Liv Trans & Surgery, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1997

Recurrence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) after orthotopic liver transplant (OLT) may be mild or may lead to progressive liver disease requiring retransplantation (re-OLT). Results of re-OLT for hepatitis C are not well known. We analyzed outcomes in 14 patients retransplanted for recurrent hepatitis C. All had evidence of recurrent hepatitis on multiple biopsies. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed in blood or tissue samples from 12 patients when recurrence was suspected; all 12 were positive for HCV-RNA. Explants showed chronic hepatitis with bridging necrosis in 3 patients, hepatitis with transition to cirrhosis in 2, hepatitis and cirrhosis in 3, and cirrhosis alone in 2. In 2 patients, in whom immunosuppression had been withheld for 4 to 6 weeks, there was also evidence of chronic rejection. Four died of sepsis perioperatively (median, 32.5 days; range, 9-59); pre-OLT, 3 of 4 had renal failure, and 1 had fever with no obvious source of infection. Ten patients did well early after OLT and were discharged. One patient was readmitted 6 weeks after discharge and died of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection 127 days after re-OLT. One patient with concomitant vanishing bile duct syndrome, probably due to chronic rejection, developed recurrent hepatitis and died of progressive liver failure 161 days after re-OLT. Eight patients are well at a median of 926 days (range, 315-1930) after re-OLT. Three have evidence of mild recurrent hepatitis on liver biopsy, one is overweight with severe steatosis on biopsy, and four have no evidence of recurrent hepatitis. Retransplantation for hepatitis C should be considered a viable option for patients who develop end-stage hepatic dysfunction secondary to recurrent disease and should be performed before development of infectious complications and renal insufficiency.

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