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Mod Pathol. 2004 Jan;17(1):117-20.

Redistribution of thorotrast into a liver allograft several years following transplantation: a case report.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Thorotrast was used as a radiographic contrast agent in the United States from about 1930 to the mid-1950 s. Its use was discontinued when it was recognized that its radioactivity caused long-term deleterious effects. Such long-term sequelae of intravascular Thorotrast injection include, most notably, hepatic and hematologic malignancies and hepatic fibrosis. Some patients who had received Thorotrast subsequently received liver transplants. However, it was not known whether or not Thorotrast could become redistributed within the new allograft. A single report in 1994 demonstrated that radioactivity was detected by gamma-ray spectroscopy in liver allografts shortly after transplantation. No report has identified Thorotrast in the allografts of long-term transplant survivors, and the redistribution of Thorotrast into allografts has not been documented histologically or by electron microscopy. We report a case of recurrent Thorotrast into a liver allograft 10 years post-transplant. We evaluated the native liver and allograft specimens for the presence of thorium utilizing light microscopy, electron microscopy and electron X-ray microanalysis. This case report demonstrates for the first time the redistribution of Thorotrast into a long-surviving liver allograft using histologic, electron microscopic and X-ray microanalysis techniques.

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