Complications in 100 living-liver donors

Ann Surg. 1998 Aug;228(2):214-9. doi: 10.1097/00000658-199808000-00011.


Objective: A review of 100 living-liver donors was performed to evaluate the perisurgical complications of the procedure and thus to help quantify the risks to the donor.

Summary background data: Despite the advantages of living-donor liver transplantation (LDLT), the procedure has received criticism for the risk it imposes on healthy persons. A paucity of data exists regarding the complications and relative safety of the procedure.

Methods: One hundred LDLTs performed between November 1989 and November 1996 were reviewed. Donor data were obtained by chart review, anesthesia records, and the computerized hospital data base. Patient variables were compared by Fisher's exact test and the Student's t test.

Results: There were 57 women and 43 men with a median age of 29. Donors were divided into two groups: group A (first 50 donors), and group B (last 50 donors). There were 91 left lateral segments and 9 left lobes. There were no deaths. Fourteen major complications occurred in 13 patients; 9 occurred in group A and 5 in group B. Biliary complications consisted of five bile duct injuries (group A = 4, group B = 1) and two cut edge bile leaks. Complications were more common in left lobe resections (55%) than in left lateral segment grafts (10%). Minor complications occurred in 20% of patients. A significant reduction in overall complications (major and minor) was observed between the groups (group A, n = 24 [45%] vs. group B, n = 10 [20%]). In addition, surgical time and hospital stay were both significantly reduced.

Conclusions: Although the procedure is safe, many LDLT donors have a perisurgical complication. Surgical experience and technical modifications have resulted in a significant reduction in these complications, however. To minimize the risks for these healthy donors, LDLT should be performed at institutions with extensive experience.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hepatectomy / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Living Donors*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged