Complications after endovascular treatment of hepatic artery stenosis after liver transplantation

J Vasc Surg. 2017 Nov;66(5):1488-1496. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2017.04.062. Epub 2017 Jul 8.


Background: Hepatic artery stenosis (HAS) after liver transplantation can progress to hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT) and a subsequent 30% to 50% risk of graft loss. Although endovascular treatment of severe HAS after liver transplantation has emerged as the dominant method of treatment, the potential risks of these interventions are poorly described.

Methods: A retrospective review of all endovascular interventions for HAS after liver transplantation between August 2009 and March 2016 was performed at a single institution, which has the largest volume of liver transplants in the United States. Severe HAS was identified by routine surveillance duplex ultrasound imaging (peak systolic velocity >400 cm/s, resistive index <0.5, and presence of tardus parvus waveforms).

Results: In 1129 liver transplant recipients during the study period, 106 angiograms were performed in 79 patients (6.9%) for severe de novo or recurrent HAS. Interventions were performed in 99 of 106 cases (93.4%) with percutaneous transluminal angioplasty alone (34 of 99) or with stent placement (65 of 99). Immediate technical success was 91%. Major complications occurred in eight of 106 cases (7.5%), consisting of target vessel dissection (5 of 8) and rupture (3 of 8). Successful endovascular treatment was possible in six of the eight patients (75%). Ruptures were treated with the use of a covered coronary balloon-expandable stent graft or balloon tamponade. Dissections were treated with placement of bare-metal or drug-eluting stents. No open surgical intervention was required to manage any of these complications. With a median of follow-up of 22 months, four of eight patients (50%) with a major complication progressed to HAT compared with one of 71 patients (1.4%) undergoing a hepatic intervention without a major complication (P < .001). One patient required retransplantation. Severe vessel tortuosity was present in 75% (6 of 8) of interventions with a major complication compared with 34.6% (34 of 98) in those without (P = .05). In the complication cohort, 37.5% (3 of 8) of the patients had received a second liver transplant before intervention compared with 12.6% (9 of 71) of the patients in the noncomplication cohort (P = .097).

Conclusions: Although endovascular treatment of HAS is safe and effective in most patients, target vessel injury is possible. Severe tortuosity of the hepatic artery and prior retransplantation were associated with a twofold to threefold increased risk of a major complication. Acute vessel injury can be managed successfully using endovascular techniques, but these patients have a significant risk of subsequent HAT and need close surveillance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Angiography
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / etiology
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / physiopathology
  • Arterial Occlusive Diseases / therapy*
  • Child
  • Constriction, Pathologic
  • Endovascular Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Endovascular Procedures / instrumentation
  • Female
  • Hepatic Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Hepatic Artery / injuries*
  • Hepatic Artery / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Louisiana
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Stents
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Duplex
  • Vascular Patency
  • Vascular System Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Vascular System Injuries / etiology*
  • Vascular System Injuries / therapy