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Transplant Proc. 2010 Oct;42(8):2970-2. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2010.07.063.

Vascular complications after orthotopic liver transplantation: hepatic artery thrombosis.

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  • 1Unidad de Cirugía Hepato-Bilio-Pancreática y Trasplante Hepático y Pancreático, Hospital Universitario La Fe, Valencia, Spain.



Hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT) is the second main cause of liver graft failure after primary nonfunction. It is the most frequent arterial complication in orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). The consensus for early HAT definition consists of an arterial thrombosis detected during the first month after OLT. HAT is associated with markedly increased morbidity, being the leading cause of graft loss (53%) and mortality. However, improvements in postoperative care have resulted in a marked reduction of its incidence.


We performed a review of all patients who underwent liver transplantations from January 1991 to December 2009, involving 1560 subjects who underwent 1674 OLT, excluding children. To analyze the impact of the study period on HAT, we defined 3 periods: the first between January 1991 and April 1993, the second from May 1993 to December 2003, and the last from January 2004 to December 2009.


The total number of patients with HAT was 48 (2.8%) including 32 (1.9%) early HAT and 16 (0.9%) late HAT. The incidence of HAT diminished as the surgical team gained experience from 9.3% in the first period to 2.1% in the last. Most patients with early HAT presented acute fulminant hepatic failure (30%) and most were retransplantations (81%).


In general, there are 3 modalities for HAT: revascularization, retransplantation, and observation. The choice of the treatment depended on the time of diagnosis although retransplantation was the treatment of choice for most groups. Minimizing risk factors, protocols for early detection, and good operative techniques should be the standard in all centers.

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