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Hum Pathol. 1999 Jan;30(1):39-47.

Fibrosis/cirrhosis after orthotopic liver transplantation.

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Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


The causes and pathologic changes leading to fibrosis and cirrhosis after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) are not fully defined. The computerized pathology files were searched for cases of fibrosis/cirrhosis after OLT. Of 493 grafts from 435 patients, 35 grafts from 32 patients of posttransplantation liver fibrosis/cirrhosis were identified and retrieved (7%). Detailed histopathologic examinations of all post-OLT liver biopsy specimens were performed in conjunction with clinical, virologic, serologic, and molecular diagnostics information. Two cases with subcapsular septa and fibrous tissue close to hilum were excluded as false positives. Fibrosis/cirrhosis was confirmed in the remaining 33 grafts. In 20, the underlying cause was recurrent viral hepatitis, including eight with hepatitis C, 10 with hepatitis B, and two with combined hepatitis C and B. Another two with pretransplantation chronic hepatitis B developed cirrhosis without detectable virologic markers after OLT; these were biliary type secondary to obstruction in one, and chronic changes due to severe graft ischemia in one. Three patients acquired hepatitis C after OLT, with molecular confirmation available in two. In five patients, the underlying causes were Budd-Chiari syndrome and autoimmune hepatitis, recurrent autoimmune hepatitis, recurrent primary biliary cirrhosis, alcohol-induced liver disease, and recurrent bile duct carcinoma. Three cases had centrilobular fibrosis but without bridging septa or cirrhosis as a result of chronic rejection. It was concluded that (1) Cirrhosis after OLT is uncommon (7%). (2) Chronic rejection does not lead to cirrhosis, but it may result in centrilobular fibrosis. (3) In most (70%) cases, cirrhosis after OLT is attributed to recurrent or acquired viral hepatitis.

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