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Clin Neuropathol. 1995 Mar-Apr;14(2):109-17.

Neuropathology of liver transplantation.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, New England Deaconess Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.


We reviewed retrospectively the clinical records, autopsy protocols and central nervous system tissue sections of 50 patients who underwent orthotopic liver transplantation for end-stage liver disease between 12/83 and 8/93. The postoperative survival period ranged from hours (6), weeks (17), months (17), to years (10). All patients received immunosuppressive drugs from the immediate postoperative period to the time of their death (cyclosporine, steroids; occasionally azathioprine, OKT3, FK506). Nineteen patients had neurological manifestations (hepatic encephalopathy) prior to surgery. Post-transplant neurologic signs and symptoms included: hepatic encephalopathy/altered mental status (11), focal or generalized seizures (9) and stroke (2). In the majority of cases (37) the cause of death was septicemia and/or bleeding diathesis. The neuropathologic findings present in 36 patients could be classified into 3 distinct categories: metabolic disorders: hepatic/anoxic encephalopathy, central pontine myelinolysis (15); cerebrovascular disease: subarachnoid and/or intracerebral hemorrhage, bland or hemorrhagic infarction (23); and infection: bacterial meningitis/cerebritis, multifocal fungal microabscesses, presumptive viral meningitis/encephalomyelitis (10). In conclusion, 72% of 50 patients who came to autopsy after liver transplantation were found to have neuropathologic abnormalities; these abnormalities were predominantly infections and vascular diseases.

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