Background: It has been shown that in situ split-liver transplantation (SLT) expands the cadaveric donor pool, decreases recipient waiting time, and decreases pretransplant morbidity. However, the technique as previously described requires a microvascular left hepatic artery anastomosis. In an attempt to decrease the incidence of hepatic artery thrombosis and to increase collaboration among transplant teams, in the current report, we describe a modification of the in situ SLT technique that maintains the celiac trunk with the left-sided liver allograft.
Methods: Twelve in situ split-liver procurements resulted in 24 segmental liver allografts; 11 right trisegments, 11 left lateral segments, 1 right lobe, and 1 left lobe. The common bile duct and main portal vein were maintained with the right-sided liver allograft in all cases. The right hepatic artery was divided, and the celiac trunk was maintained with the left-sided liver allograft in nine cases. In one case the left hepatic artery was divided and the celiac trunk was maintained with the right-sided allograft. Two of the 12 donors had a completely replaced left hepatic artery originating from the left gastric artery, which was divided at its origin from the celiac trunk. When the celiac trunk was maintained with the left-sided allografts, arterial reconstruction of the right-sided allograft was performed with an external iliac arterial interposition graft. Nineteen of the 24 split-liver allografts were transplanted at our center. The remaining five liver allografts were shared with regional liver transplant centers.
Results: In this series, 1-year actuarial patient and allograft survival rates are 100% and 96%, respectively. Hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT) did not occur in any patient receiving a left-sided split allograft in which the celiac trunk or left gastric artery was maintained; in addition, HAT did not occur in any of the right-sided allografts. HAT did occur immediately after transplantation in the one patient who was transplanted with a left lateral segment without the celiac trunk. This allograft was salvaged by early thrombectomy and interposition grafting. One patient required retransplantation, owing to portal vein thrombosis. Hepatic venous outflow obstruction did not occur in any of the patients. Two patients required reexploration in the posttransplant period because of arterial anastomotic site bleeding, and one of the left lateral segment allograft recipients had a cut-surface bile leak, which was managed nonoperatively. All of the patients are alive and well, including the five patients who received their transplants at other centers, with a median follow-up of 10 months (range, 1-27 months).
Conclusions: In summary, our data demonstrate that maintaining the celiac trunk with the left-sided allograft in SLT provides excellent early survival results with low complication rates. This technical modification obviates the need for a left hepatic artery microvascular anastomosis and should lower the incidence of hepatic artery thrombosis in the small-caliber left hepatic artery. We have also shown that this technique allows sharing among liver transplant centers without compromise in patient or allograft survival rates. It is hoped that this modification in SLT will increase the number of livers split, and will promote sharing among transplant centers to truly optimize the number of liver allografts available from the cadaveric pool.