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Transplant Proc. 2006 Dec;38(10):3651-5.

Arterial steal syndrome after orthotopic liver transplantation.

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Department of General Surgery, Baskent University Faculty of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey.


Arterial steal syndrome after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is characterized by arterial hypoperfusion of the graft, which is caused by a shift in blood flow into the splenic or gastroduodenal arteries. In this report, we present mechanisms by which this syndrome caused ischemia in our patients. Steal was suspected by elevated levels of liver enzymes and the results of Doppler ultrasonography and computed tomographic angiography; it was confirmed by celiac angiography. Patients with established hepatic arterial thrombosis before angiography were excluded from this study. Steal was treated by embolization with a coil or by placement of an endoluminal narrowing stent. Ten patients at our institution (seven men and three women; mean age, 24.7 +/- 11 years; range, 6 to 40 years) exhibited biochemical evidence of liver ischemia and graft failure at 1 to 170 days after having undergone orthotopic liver transplantation. Nine of those patients had splenic steal, and one had both splenic and left gastric artery steal syndrome. None of the patients had gastroduodenal artery steal syndrome. The eight patients with splenic steal syndrome and the patient with both splenic and left gastric steal syndrome were treated by transcatheter occlusion with a coil. The remaining patient with splenic steal syndrome was treated with an endoluminal narrowing stent placement. All patients improved clinically within 24 hours after treatment, exhibiting significant changes in their biochemical and radiological parameters. Follow-up ranged from 1 to 22 months (mean, 6.7 +/- 6.6 months). One patient died from sepsis 1 month after having undergone coil embolization. He had no vascular anomalies at the time of death. We conclude that steal is a significant problem after OLT. Embolization and stenting are minimally invasive and successful treatments for steal, usually resulting early clinical improvement.

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