Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome in liver transplant patients: clinical presentation, risk factors and initial management

Am J Transplant. 2012 Aug;12(8):2228-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2012.04048.x. Epub 2012 Apr 11.


Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES) is an uncommon but well-known complication after transplantation diagnosed by characteristic radiological features. As limited data on this complex syndrome exist we sought to better define the incidence, clinical presentation and risk factors for PRES in liver transplant (LTx) patients. We conducted a retrospective analysis of 1923 adult LTx recipients transplanted between 2000 and 2010. PRES was diagnosed radiologically in 19 patients (1%), with 84% of cases occurring within 3 months post-LTX. We compared this cohort of PRES patients to 316 other LTx recipients also requiring radiographic imaging within 3 months after LTx for neurological symptoms. Seizure was the most common clinical manifestation in the PRES group (88% vs. 16%, p< 0.001) and 31% had an intracranial hemorrhage. Those with hemorrhage on imaging were more likely to be coagulopathic. PRES patients were significantly more likely to have had alcoholic liver disease and infection/sepsis. These factors may be related to a common pathway of vascular dysregulation/damage that appears to characterize this complex syndrome. Intracranial bleeding and seizures may be the end result of these phenomena. The relationship of these associated factors to the hypothesized pathophysiology of PRES is discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Diseases / etiology*
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Brain Diseases / therapy*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed