Biliary complications after liver transplantation.
BACKGROUND The exact cause and appropriate treatment for cholestasis following liver transplantation in recipients with hepatitis C virus recurrence (RHCV) are difficult to determine. Our objective was to determine the diagnostic accuracy of clinical and histological parameters in liver transplant recipients with RHCV and concurrent cholestasis. METHODS A retrospective analysis from June 1996 to May 2003 was performed on adult liver transplant (OLT) recipients with hepatitis C virus. Patients with cholestasis (bilirubin >5 mg/dL, 6 months after OLT) were selected. Demographics, etiology, immune suppression, clinical and histologic outcomes, and virologic features were evaluated. Patients were divided into two groups based on clinical and histological criteria: (1) patients with parameters suggestive of cholestatic HCV; and (2) patients with parameters consistent with acute cellular rejection. RESULTS Thirty-seven patients met study criteria (20 males). The average age was 54 years (range = 14-72), and time from transplant to jaundice was 769 days (range = 48-2981). The groups were comparable regarding HCV viral load, age, gender, time from transplant, and United Network of Organ Sharing status at time of transplant. Retransplantation was performed in two patients in group 1, neither of whom survived, and in three patients in group 2, all of whom survived. Clinical parameters correlated well with diagnosis of cholestasis (r = 0.85, P < .001) whereas histological evaluation did not (r = 0.11, P = .53). Mortality in group 1 was 78% (7 of 9) vs. 50% (13 of 26) in group 2. Median duration of survival following liver transplantation in group 1 was 132 days versus 435 days in group 2. CONCLUSION Clinical diagnosis parameters for RHCV with cholestasis appear more accurate than histology parameters and should be the primary consideration in directing therapy. Despite timely diagnosis, cholestatic RHCV LTx recipients have a poor prognosis.