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Eur Radiol. 2000;10(7):1169-83.

Pulmonary complications of liver transplantation: radiological appearance and statistical evaluation of risk factors in 300 cases.

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  • 1Dipartimento Clinico di Scienze Radiologiche ed Istocitopatologiche, Policlinico S. Orsola, Universit√† di Bologna, Italy.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the incidence, radiographic appearance, time of onset, outcome and risk factors of non-infectious and infectious pulmonary complications following liver transplantation. Chest X-ray features of 300 consecutive patients who had undergone 333 liver transplants over an 11-year period were analysed: the type of pulmonary complication, the infecting pathogens and the mean time of their occurrence are described. The main risk factors for lung infections were quantified through univariate and multivariate statistical analysis. Non-infectious pulmonary abnormalities (atelectasis and/or pleural effusion: 86.7%) and pulmonary oedema (44.7%) appeared during the first postoperative week. Infectious pneumonia was observed in 13.7%, with a mortality of 36.6%. Bacterial and viral pneumonia made up the bulk of infections (63.4 and 29.3%, respectively) followed by fungal infiltrates (24.4 %). A fairly good correlation between radiological chest X-ray pattern, time of onset and the cultured microorganisms has been observed in all cases. In multivariate analysis, persistent non-infectious abnormalities and pulmonary oedema were identified as the major independent predictors of posttransplant pneumonia, followed by prolonged assisted mechanical ventilation and traditional caval anastomosis. A "pneumonia-risk score" was calculated: low-risk score ( < 2.25) predicts 2.7% of probability of the onset of infections compared with 28.7% of high-risk (> 3.30) population. The "pneumonia-risk score" identifies a specific group of patients in whom closer radiographic monitoring is recommended. In addition, a highly significant correlation (p < 0.001) was observed between pneumonia-risk score and the expected survival, thus confirming pulmonary infections as a major cause of death in OLT recipients.

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