The University of Chicago program in pediatric liver transplantation continues actively to seek innovative surgical solutions to problems related to the management of children with end-stage liver disease. Among the most important problems facing these children is a shortage of donor organs, which results from three factors in addition to the actual supply of pediatric donors: the concentration of pediatric liver disease in the population younger than 2 years; the necessity for a graft that is small enough; and the epidemiology of accidents and other events that lead to organ donation. Transplantation using a liver lobe as a graft overcomes size disparity and shifts the available supply of organs from older donors to younger recipients. This work describes the technical aspects of recent innovations in the use of liver lobes in pediatric transplantation, simple reduced-size liver transplantation (RLT), split-liver transplantation (SLT), orthotopic auxiliary liver grafting (ALT), and transplantation using a living related donor (LRLT), and compares their results. Since November 1986 a total of 61 procedures have been performed in which a liver lobe was used as a graft: 26 RLT; 30 SLT, 25 in children and 5 in adults; 5 LRLT; and 1 ALT. Overall 62% of transplants performed in children have involved using a liver lobe as a graft. The rates of complications are somewhat higher than with whole-liver transplantation, but this may not be entirely the result of the complex procedures. Split liver transplantation is associated with the highest mortality and complication rates. Living related liver transplantation has been associated with complications in donors and recipients, but to date survival is 100%. Orthotopic auxiliary liver transplantation effectively corrected the metabolic defect in one patient with ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency. Overall the various modalities of using graft reduction have resulted in postoperative results similar to those achieved with full-size grafts, while pretransplantation mortality has been limited to less than 2%. Thus the use of grafts as liver lobes accomplishes the goal of reducing global mortality among children with end-stage liver disease, but at the cost of increased surgical complexity and more postoperative complications.
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