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Transplantation. 1993 Apr;55(4):802-6.

Hepatic retransplantation in New England--a regional experience and survival model.

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New England Organ Bank, Brookline, Massachusetts.


Hepatic retransplantation (reTx) offers the only alternative to death for patients who have failed primary hepatic transplantation (PTx). Assuming a finite number of donor organs, reTx also denies the chance of survival for some patients awaiting PTx. The impact of reTx on overall survival (i.e., the survival of all candidates for transplantation) must therefore be clarified. Between 1983 and 1991, 651 patients from the New England Organ Bank underwent liver transplantation, and 73 reTx were performed in 71 patients (11% reTx rate). The 1-year actuarial survival for reTx (48%) was significantly less than for PTx (70%, P < 0.05). This survival varied, dependent on the interval of time following PTx in which the reTx was performed (0-3 days, 57% survival; 4-30 days, 24%; 30-365 days, 54%; and > 365 days, 83%). Patients on the regional waiting list had an 18% mortality rate while awaiting transplantation. These results were incorporated into a mathematical model describing survival as a function of reTx rate, assuming a limited supply of donor livers. ReTx improves the 1-year survival rate for patients undergoing PTx but decreases overall survival (survival of all candidates) for liver transplantation. In the current era of persistently insufficient donor numbers, strategies based on minimizing the use of reTx, especially in the case of patients in whom chances of success are minimal, will result in the best overall rate of patient survival.

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