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Clin Transplant. 2017 Dec;31(12). doi: 10.1111/ctr.13119. Epub 2017 Nov 27.

Opioid and opioid substitution therapy in liver transplant candidates: A survey of center policies and practices.

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Department of Pharmacy Services, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Center for Liver Diseases, University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, USA.
Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


This national survey sought to determine the practices and policies pertaining to opioid and opioid substitution therapy (OST) use in the selection of liver transplant (LT) candidates. Of 114 centers, 61 (53.5%) responded to the survey, representing 49.2% of the LT volume in 2016. Only two programs considered chronic opioid (1 [1.6%]) or OST use (1 [1.6%]) absolute contraindications to transplant, while 63.9% and 37.7% considered either one a relative contraindication, respectively. The majority of programs did not have a written policy regarding chronic opioid use (73.8%) or OST use (78.7%) in LT candidates. Nearly half (45.9%) of centers agreed that there should be a national consensus policy addressing opioid and OST use. The majority of responding LT centers did not consider opioid or OST use in LT candidates to be absolute contraindications to LT, but there was significant variability in center practices. These surveys also demonstrated a lack of written policies in the assessment of the candidacy of such patients. The results of our survey identify an opportunity to develop a national consensus statement regarding opioid and OST use in LT candidates to bring greater uniformity and equity into the selection of LT candidates.


liver transplantation; opioid analgesics; opioid substitution therapy; patient selection

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