Objective: The authors analyze a single center's 11-year experience with 190 orthotopic liver transplants for congenital biliary atresia.
Summary background data: Hepatic portoenterostomy generally is the initial treatment for children with congenital biliary atresia. Despite multiple modifications of the hepatic portoenterostomy, two thirds of treated patients still develop recurrent cholestasis, portal hypertension, cholangitis, and cirrhosis. Therefore, the only hope of long-term survival in the majority of children with congenital biliary atresia is definitive correction with orthotopic liver transplantation.
Methods: The medical records of 190 consecutive patients undergoing orthotopic liver transplantation for congenital biliary atresia from July 1, 1984 to February 29, 1996 were reviewed. Results were analyzed via Cox multivariate regression analysis to determine the statistical strength of independent associations between pretransplant covariates and patient and graft survival. Actuarial patient and graft survival was determined at 1, 2, and 5 years. The type and incidence of post-transplant complications were determined, as was the quality of long-term graft function. The median follow-up period was 3.21 years.
Results: The liver grafts were comprised on 155 whole-organ, 24 reduced-size, and 11 living donor organs. Median pretransplant values for recipient age, weight, and total bilirubin were 1.4 years, 12.3 kg, and 13.8 mg/dL, respectively. One hundred sixty-four patients (86%) had undergone prior hepatic portoenterostomy. Eighty-seven patients (46%) were United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) status 1 or 2 at the time of liver transplantation. The majority (15/24, 62%) of reduced-size graft recipients were UNOS status I at the time of transplantation. One hundred fifty-nine patients (84%) received a single graft, whereas 31 patients required 37 retransplants. The 1, 2, and 5 year actuarial patient survival rates were 83%, 80% and 78% respectively, whereas graft survival rates were 81%, 77%, and 76%, respectively. Cox multivariate regression analysis demonstrated that pretransplant total bilirubin, UNOS status, and graft type significantly predicted patient survival, whereas recipient age, weight, and previous hepatic portoenterostomy did not. Current median follow-up values for total bilirubin and aspartate aminotransferase levels in the 154 surviving patients were 0.5 mg/dL and 34 international units/L, respectively.
Conclusion: Long-term patient survival after orthotopic liver transplantation for congenital biliary atresia is excellent and is independent of recipient age, weight, or previous hepatic portoenterostomy. Optimal results are obtained in this patient population when liver transplantation is performed before marked hyperbilirubinemia, and when possible, using a living-donor graft.