Efficacy of liver transplantation for alcoholic cirrhosis with respect to recidivism and compliance

Transplantation. 1994 Sep 15;58(5):560-5. doi: 10.1097/00007890-199409150-00006.


Many transplant centers are reluctant to accept alcoholic patients for OLT because of their supposed potential for alcoholic recidivism and poor compliance with the required immunosuppressive regimen, both of which result in graft failure. Only inconclusive data related to these arguments are available. From May 1982 to January 1993, 58 patients received OLT at our institution for end-stage cirrhosis, where alcohol was the only toxic component. The indication for OLT in these patients was considered with particular attention to recidivism and compliance. Overall survival in this group was 71% and 63% at 1 and 5 years, respectively, with an average survival time of 78 months. Actuarial survival of patients transplanted since January 1989 (n = 37) was 86% and 83% at 1 and 2 years (average survival 42 months). Nonfatal clinical endpoints were analyzed in those patients surviving at least 3 months (n = 44). Return to alcohol abuse has been documented in 14 persons at routine short-term outpatient checkups. The estimated risk for alcoholic recidivism amounts to 31%, with a median follow-up of 33 months. Compliance with immunosuppressive regimen was expressed as a dependent value of acute rejection episodes (0.3 per patient, median follow-up 33 months), chronic rejection (occurred in none of the patients), and measurements of CsA HPLC blood trough level (92.2% within the target range). The preversus postoperative improvement of employment, marital, and social status after OLT showed a statistically significant difference. Unwillingness to offer OLT to individuals with alcoholic liver disease because of failure to demonstrate 100% long-term abstinence appears difficult to defend in the face of good results in survival, compliance, and social rehabilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Cyclosporine / blood
  • Cyclosporine / therapeutic use
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Graft Rejection / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / surgery*
  • Liver Transplantation* / immunology
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Recurrence


  • Cyclosporine