Current results and evolving indications for liver transplantation in children

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1998 Aug;27(2):214-21. doi: 10.1097/00005176-199808000-00017.


Liver transplantation continues to be successful and effective treatment for acute and chronic liver failure, and many important lessons have been learned. The development of innovative operative techniques has much reduced the waiting list mortality rate and has extended transplantation to younger and sicker children and to those with functionally normal livers who may benefit from auxiliary liver transplantation. The incidence and range of postoperative complications have improved with increased medical and surgical expertise. As information on long-term outcome for liver transplantation is gained, it is clear that many children will benefit from early elective liver transplantation before the development of significant growth or psychosocial retardation. Early transplantation is also indicated in children with cirrhosis and intrapulmonary shunting or cystic fibrosis with moderate lung disease. During the same period, evolving medical therapy has altered the natural history, patient selection, and timing of transplantation in children with tyrosinaemia type I, primary bile acid disorders, neonatal haemochromatosis, and potentially, cystic fibrosis. It is now clear that children with significant multisystem disease, such as mitochondrial disorders or severe systemic oxalosis, are no longer suitable candidates for liver transplantation. The successful development of liver transplantation has brought good quality life to many children and their families. There are still many lessons to learn and there are future challenges such as the ever-increasing problems of donor scarcity and the search for potent but less toxic immunosuppressive agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Contraindications
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression
  • Liver Diseases / mortality
  • Liver Diseases / surgery*
  • Liver Transplantation* / methods
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome