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Liver Transpl Surg. 1996 Sep;2(5 Suppl 1):99-108.

Liver transplantation for primary sclerosing cholangitis: impact of risk factors on outcome.

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Division of Hepatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


The results of liver transplantation in patients with PSC are excellent and the quality of life is markedly improved. Indeed, liver transplantation is the therapy of choice for patients with end-stage PSC. However, in an age of cost containment, it appears that there are several advantages to offering transplant to patients with PSC a little bit earlier rather than later in the course of their disease. It appears that we can further improve survival, decrease morbidity, decrease blood usage, and avoid the risk of developing a cholangiocarcinoma, which occurs sporadically but not infrequently in the PSC patient. In addition, avoidance of right upper quadrant surgery, such as biliary or shunt surgery, appears to offer several advantages by decreasing resource utilization and possibly decreasing mortality. Although the UNOS selection guidelines recommend transplantation of the sickest patient, there appears to be accumulating evidence that transplantation in patients earlier in the course of their end-stage liver disease may improve survival, decrease morbidity, and also importantly, decrease the cost associated with this expensive procedure. Ideally, we would recommend consideration for liver transplantation all PSC patients who have (1) a Mayo risk score of > 4.8 in whom malignancy is ruled out, (2) cirrhosis and complications of portal hypertension such as variceal bleeding, refractory ascites, or portosystemic encephalopathy, or (3) disabling symptoms such as fatigue, pruritus, or recurrent bacterial cholangitis. We believe that biliary surgery to treat dominant strictures should be avoided and that such strictures should be approached either endoscopically or radiographically, which should include brushings, biopsies, and histology to reasonably exclude the diagnosis of cholangiocarcinoma. Finally, we continue to search for risk factors and for early markers of cholangiocarcinoma so these patients can be identified early and this devastating complication can be avoided by early transplantation.

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