Background/aims: Though alcoholic cirrhosis is a common indication for liver transplantation, it carries the risk of alcohol recidivism and consequent graft failure. This study aims to evaluate the effect of alcohol recidivism on survival rates and histological parameters in patients transplanted for alcoholic cirrhosis, with and without hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.
Methods: Fifty-one out of 189 consecutive transplanted patients underwent psychosocial evaluation and liver biopsy at 6 and 12 months, then yearly after transplantation.
Results: The cumulative 84 month survival rate was identical in patients transplanted for alcoholic (51%) and non-alcoholic cirrhosis (52%). No difference emerged between anti-HCV negative vs. positive alcoholic cirrhosis patients. Psycho-social evaluation revealed alcohol recidivism in 11/34 long-term survivors, but this did not affect overall survival rate in patients with or without HCV. In anti-HCV negative cases, fatty changes and pericellular fibrosis were significantly more common in heavy drinkers than in occasional drinkers and abstainers. When HCV status was considered regardless of alcohol intake, fibrosis was significantly more frequent in patients with HCV.
Conclusion: Alcohol recidivism after transplantation in alcoholic cirrhosis patients does not affect survival, irrespective of HCV status. Fatty changes and pericellular fibrosis are the most relevant histological signs of heavy alcohol intake.