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Neurology. 2003 Nov 11;61(9):1174-8.

Neurologic complications of liver transplantation in adults.

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  • 1St. James's University Hospital, Leeds, UK.



To describe the incidence and nature of neurologic complications following liver transplantation.


Adult patients who received liver transplants at St. James's University Hospital between September 1, 1990, and August 31, 2000, were identified. Case notes were reviewed and demographic data, details of the liver disease, neurologic complications, and discharge information were recorded.


The authors identified 657 patients and traced the case notes of 627 (95.4%). These patients had a total of 711 transplants. Neurologic complications occurred following 185 transplants (26%) affecting 170 patients (27%). The most common complications were diffuse encephalopathies, which affected 66 patients (11%), and seizures, which affected 37 patients (6%). Forty-three percent of patients with alcoholic liver disease and 41% of patients with primary biliary cirrhosis experienced a neurologic complication. These proportions were higher than for other transplant indications (p < 0.001). Patients who experienced a neurologic problem spent longer in hospital (p < 0.01) and had a poorer outcome (p < 0.001).


Neurologic complications occur following 26% of liver transplants. A higher proportion of patients who received transplants for alcoholic liver disease and primary biliary cirrhosis experienced neurologic complications than those receiving transplants for other reasons. Patients who experience a neurologic problem spend longer in hospital and have a poorer outcome.

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