Background: In 320 living related liver transplantation performed between June 1990 and September 1997, there were 21 living related liver transplantation for patients with intrapulmonary shunting, manifested by digital clubbing, cyanosis, and dyspnea. We report the long-term outcome for more 6 months and our strategy to overcome complications in these recipients.
Patients: A total of 21 patients (age range 2-33 years, 19 children and 2 adults, 6 males and 15 females) were classified into three grades according to shunt ratio calculated by TcMAA pulmonary scintigraphy; 5 in mild group (shunt ratio: less than 20%), 6 in moderated group (20%-40%), and 10 in severe group (more than 40%). The original underlying liver disease was biliary atresia in all patients.
Results: Spearmen's correlation coefficient rank test revealed that shunt ratio correlated significantly with PaO2 in room air (P=0.0001), PaO2 in 100% oxygen (P=0.0004), hematocrit (P=0.0276), and period of dyspnea before transplantation (P=0.023).
Complications: Wound infection occurred in 80, 66, and 80%, and bile leakage in 20, 0, 40% in mild, moderate, and severe group, respectively. Patients who had portal vein thrombosis, and intracranial complication were classified as severe group and the incidence was 20 and 20%, respectively. The patient actuarial one year survival was 80, 66.7, and 48%, in mild, moderate, and severe group, respectively, although there was no significant difference. All patients who survived improved hepatopulmonary syndrome and the length of period required for the resolution was significantly correlated to the preoperative shunt ratio (P=0.023).
Comments: Patients with severe shunting are susceptible to wound infection and bile leak. The trend of higher incidence of portal thrombosis and intracranial complications in the severe group was closely related high hematocrit. Secure surgical technique to reduce bile leak and delayed primary wound closure to reduce wound infection were found to be effective. Anticoagulant therapy by infusing heparin through the portal vein followed by coumadin could prevent fatal portal vein thrombosis without counter risk of fatal cerebral hemorrhage.