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Am J Transplant. 2008 Feb;8(2):366-76. Epub 2007 Dec 18.

Ascites in hepatitis C liver transplant recipients frequently occurs in the absence of advanced fibrosis.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Division of Transplantation, University of California - San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Ascites after liver transplantation is uncommon (3-7%) but causes morbidity and mortality. Although hepatitis C (HCV), pretransplant ascites, encephalopathy and cold ischemia time have been identified as predictors, neither posttransplant renal function nor the severity of recurrent HCV (inflammatory grade; fibrosis stage) has been systematically assessed. Among 173 HCV transplants (1 January 1998 to 31 December 2002), 18 patients (10%) developed posttransplant ascites. Cox proportional hazards models identified recipient female gender (hazard ratio [HR]= 12.18; p = 0.0001), cold ischemia time (HR = 1.17 per incremental hour; p = 0.021) and posttransplant creatinine (Cr) (HR = 1.56 per incremental 1.0 mg/dL; p = 0.0052) as independent predictors. Ludwig-Batts inflammation grade (HR = 1.32; p = 0.36) and fibrosis stage (HR = 1.63; p = 0.12) were not significant predictors. The 18 recipients had 19 ascites episodes; 12/19 had fibrosis stage 0, 1 or 2 (10/12 with stage 0 or 1). All 12 lacked diagnostic parenchymal or vascular histopathology. Renal function at ascites diagnosis were similar for transplants with fibrosis stage 0, 1 or 2 versus 3 or 4 (1.8 +/- 1.6 vs. 1.6 +/- 0.6 mg/dL; Cr clearance 39.6 +/- 15.6 vs. 39.3 +/- 13.4 mL/min/1.73 m(2)). In conclusion, recipient female gender, cold ischemia time and poor posttransplant renal function were independent predictors of ascites after HCV liver transplantation. Two thirds of ascites episodes, however, occurred without significant fibrosis or histopathology.

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