Improved physical performance after orthotopic liver transplantation

Liver Transpl Surg. 1999 Jul;5(4):301-9. doi: 10.1002/lt.500050406.


Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) has become a frequently used treatment for end-stage liver disease and acute liver failure, and liver function is markedly improved after transplantation. However, no studies have investigated the development in physical capacity after OLT. On this basis, the aim of the present study is to study the influence of OLT on physical fitness during the first postoperative year. Twenty-three men with a mean age of 45.1 years (range, 24 to 62 years) and 15 women with a mean age of 44.6 years (range, 21 to 62 years) were included in the study. Preoperative maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) during graded ergometer bicycling, isokinetic knee extension/flexion moments, and functional performance (i.e., 6-minute walking distance and standardized transfers and squats) was measured. Preoperative fitness and strength was 40% to 50% less than expected in the age-matched general population. Post-OLT, all patients underwent a supervised exercise program for 8 to 24 weeks. Follow-up data showed a significant increase in all tested physical performance parameters after OLT. Six months post-OLT, VO2max had increased 43%; knee strength, 60% to 100%; and functional performance, 22% to 27%. One year postsurgery, general health was improved and perceived as excellent or good in all patients. All patients were independent in activities of daily living, and the level of physical activity increased after OLT. No further improvement in either physical performance parameters or self-assessed parameters was seen beyond 6 months after OLT. In conclusion, these findings indicate that OLT combined with a supervised post-OLT exercise program improves physical fitness, muscle strength, and functional performance in individuals with chronic liver disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Liver Failure / physiopathology
  • Liver Failure / surgery
  • Liver Failure, Acute / physiopathology
  • Liver Failure, Acute / surgery
  • Liver Transplantation / physiology*
  • Liver Transplantation / rehabilitation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Walking / physiology