Background: Split-liver transplantation offers a unique opportunity to expand the existing donor pool. However, it has previously been stated that due to inadequate liver volume the advantages of split-liver transplantation would be lost when attempting to split the liver for two adult recipients. In this study, we sought to determine the safety, efficacy, and applicability of split-liver transplantation in select adult liver transplant recipients.
Methods: Liver allografts for eight adult recipients were procured by in situ splitting of four adult cadaveric livers. The donor ages were 17, 19, 22, and 25 years and weights were 72, 77, 78, and 87 kg, respectively. In situ splitting resulted in three right trisegmental grafts, one right lobe graft, one left lobe graft, and three left lateral segmental grafts. The median recipient age was 49 years (range 38-61 years), whereas the median recipient weight was 84 kg (range 78-98 kg) for the right-sided grafts and 52 kg (range 51-53 kg) for recipients of the left-sided grafts. The median graft-to-recipient body weight ratio for right trisegmental, right lobe, left lobe, and left lateral segmental grafts was 1.31%, 1.26%, 1.35%, and 0.70%, respectively.
Results: Overall patient and graft survival in this series is 100%. All prothrombin times were normalized within 4 days of transplantation. No evidence of ascites or prolonged hyperbilirubinemia was encountered in any right- or left-sided graft recipient. The incidence of hepatic artery, portal vein, and hepatic vein thrombosis is 0%, 0%, and 0%, respectively. Hepatic arterial anastomotic bleeding and a cut surface bile leak each occurred in one patient. Median United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) waiting time was 242 days (range 4-454 days) for the patients to which the donor liver was allocated. In contrast, the median waiting time for the four patients receiving the extra split-liver graft was reduced significantly to 37 days (range 21-101 days) (P<0.02).
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that split-liver transplantation can expand the cadaveric donor liver pool available for select adult liver transplant recipients. When both the donor organ and the transplant recipient are chosen carefully, split-liver transplantation can be safely performed without a delay in allograft function, increase in technical complications, or compromise in graft or patient survival.