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World J Surg. 2002 Feb;26(2):275-82. Epub 2001 Dec 21.

Split-liver transplantation: future use of scarce donor organs.

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Klinik für Allgemein-undTransplantationschirurgie, Universitätsklinikum Essen, Essen, Germany.


The main obstacle to a expansion of human liver transplantation is the lack of donor organs. At present mortality reported for pediatric and adult patients on the waiting list is 10%to 20%. This article focuses on several techniques to alleviate this problem. Several years ago, application of reduced-size liver transplantation overcame the donor shortage among small infants through the use of grafts shaped to almost any size needed. Today reduced-size grafts are only rarely used, most commonly with traumatized donor livers or particularly small pediatric donor livers. Split liver transplantation also yields a net gain of organs, in that it uses one organ to save either an adult and a child or, recently, two adults. The technique of ex situ splitting is progressively being replaced by the in situ splitting technique, which yields better preserved grafts,optimization of graft/donor matching by pretransplant manipulation(preconditioning), avoidance of early rejection in the recipient,portal decompression, temporary liver support, if necessary, and induction of fast regeneration. In acute hepatic failure, auxiliary heterotopic liver transplantation might be sufficient to support liver function until regeneration of the native liver has begun. Domino transplantation in some patients with inborn errors of metabolism or storage disease should be considered. This article focuses on increasing the organ supply by using split liver transplantation techniques and living-donor liver transplantation.

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