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Semin Liver Dis. 2004 Aug;24(3):249-55.

Transplantation in the alcoholic patient.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine and Hepatology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska 68198-3285, USA.


Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is the second leading indication for transplantation in the United States. Most transplant programs in the United States require a minimum of 6 month's abstinence before transplantation is performed. Most studies have shown a recidivism rate of between 20 and 30% by 2 years after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). Higher rates of recidivism are reported if pre-OLT abstinence was < 6 months. The impact of recidivism on patient and graft survival is not clear because most reports include patients who consume alcohol in small amounts or infrequently. Equal post-OLT survival for ALD patients and non-ALD patients has been demonstrated, and ALD patients are not thought to suffer greater morbidity post transplant than non-ALD patients. Careful pretransplant assessment for concomitant medical and psychosocial ailments associated with alcoholism is important. Posttransplant monitoring for cardiovascular disease and withdrawal syndromes is required in the early postoperative setting, whereas monitoring for recidivism and malignancy are late postoperative issues.

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