Orthotopic liver transplantation for alcoholic liver disease: a retrospective analysis of survival, recidivism, and risk factors predisposing to recidivism

Liver Transpl. 2001 May;7(5):418-27. doi: 10.1053/jlts.2001.23789.


The aim of this study performed at the Liver Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK, is to assess posttransplantation alcohol consumption and identify risk factors associated with recidivism. This retrospective case-control study used a self-report questionnaire to assess pretransplantation and posttransplantation drinking, and a retrospective cohort study used patient notes to analyze risk factors for recidivism. Of 64 patients who underwent transplantation for alcoholic liver disease (ALD) between May 1996 and November 1999, a total of 49 surviving patients (40 men, 9 women) were available for study. The comparison group consisted of 49 patients matched for age, sex, and date of transplantation who underwent transplantation for non-alcohol-induced chronic liver disease. Two-year patient survival rates were 82% in both study groups. The questionnaire response rate was 69.3% and 75.5% in patients with and without ALD, respectively. Data on recidivism (defined as any alcohol consumption after transplantation) were available in 46 of the 49 patients with ALD. Of these, 45.6% were drinking; 21.7% reported only occasionally drinking; 17.3%, moderate drinking; and 6.5%, heavy drinking. Information on alcohol consumption was available from 41 of the 49 controls. Of these, 52.5% consumed alcohol; 22.0% reported drinking only on special occasions; 24.4%, moderate drinking; and 4.9%, a return to heavy drinking. However, these differences were not statistically significant, and log-rank analysis found no significant difference in time to resumption of drinking. In the ALD cohort, no significant risk factors were identified to predict recidivism. No pretransplantation risk factors (including period of abstinence before transplantation) correlated with recidivism. Survival after transplantation for ALD is similar to that in other forms of chronic liver disease. Recidivism rates for patients with ALD are high, but patients with ALD do not drink more than their control counterparts posttransplantation. In most instances, alcohol consumption posttransplantation is minimal to moderate (<20 units/wk) and seems to be controlled.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / epidemiology
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / mortality
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / surgery*
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Analysis