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Rev Infect Dis. 1991 May-Jun;13(3):387-96.

Bacterial infection as a complication of liver transplantation: epidemiology and risk factors.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Chicago Hospitals, Illinois.


A retrospective survey was undertaken to characterize the epidemiology of bacterial infection in 79 patients who underwent 103 operations for orthotopic liver transplantation. Fifty-four patients (68%) developed 115 bacterial infections (1.46 episodes per patient), and seven patients died as a result of these infections. Fifty-three percent of bacterial infections occurred within 2 weeks after transplantation and were designated as early infections. The most common sites of infection were the abdomen (35 cases), the bloodstream (31 cases), and the surgical wound (19 cases). Aerobic enteric gram-negative bacilli were the predominant pathogens, and other pathogenic organisms were enterococci, staphylococci, and Pseudomonas bacteria. Logistic regression analysis identified prolonged duration of surgery (greater than or equal to 8 hours) and an elevated bilirubin level (greater than or equal to 12 mg/dL) as risk factors for early bacterial infection at any site; risk factors for abdominal or wound infection were prolonged duration of surgery, increased operative transfusion requirement (greater than or equal to 2 blood volumes), and prior hepatobiliary surgery. Awareness of the sites, pathogens, and time of onset of bacterial infection provides a basis for improved prophylaxis and empiric therapy.

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