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Transplantation. 2011 May 27;91(10):1148-52. doi: 10.1097/TP.0b013e31821694b3.

Current trends in living donor liver transplantation for primary sclerosing cholangitis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.



Use of the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score has improved the efficiency of allocating deceased donor organs for liver transplant. However, its use may reduce access to deceased donor livers for patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) due to the weighting of the MELD score variables. To overcome such barriers in the post-MELD era, clinicians might refer patients with PSC, relative to patients without PSC, for living donor transplants more frequently.


To test this hypothesis, we examined patients in the United Network for Organ Sharing database from December 1, 1994, to May 31, 2009.


In multivariable models conditioned on transplant center, patients with PSC were significantly more likely to receive a living donor transplant in both the pre-MELD (odds ratio [OR]=2.75; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.20-3.44) and post-MELD eras (OR=4.08; 95% CI, 3.45-4.82). There was a significant interaction between PSC and post-MELD era of transplantation (OR=1.48; 95% CI, 1.11-1.97), indicating that patients with PSC were more likely to receive living donor transplants at baseline relative to patients without PSC, and that this effect was magnified following the introduction of the MELD score.


These findings raise the possibility that allocating livers on the basis of MELD score may have yielded the unintended consequence of increasing rates for living donor transplants for patients with PSC relative to patients with other forms of end-stage liver disease. Future research is needed to determine whether the practice of selectively transplanting patients with PSC with living donor transplants is associated with differences in clinical outcomes.

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