Complications of liver transplant

Elizabeth V. Craig, Matthew T. Heller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Liver transplantation has become a definitive treatment for patients with end-stage liver disease and those meeting Milan criteria for hepatocellular carcinoma. The morbidity and mortality associated with liver transplantation continues to decrease thanks to refinements in surgical technique, immunosuppression, and imaging. In particular, imaging plays a vital role by facilitating early detection of post-operative complications and enabling prompt treatment. Post-operative complications that lead to graft failure and patient morbidity/mortality can be generally categorized as vascular, biliary, parenchymal, and malignant. Vascular complications include stenosis and thrombosis of the hepatic artery, portal vein, and inferior vena cava; hepatic artery pseudoaneurysm; arteriovenous fistula; and celiac stenosis. Biliary abnormalities include strictures, bile leak, obstruction, recurrent disease, and infection. While imaging is not primarily utilized to diagnose allograft rejection, it plays an important role in excluding mechanical causes of graft dysfunction that can mimic rejection. Ultrasound is routinely performed as the first-line imaging evaluation for the detection and follow-up of early and delayed complications. Cholangiography and magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography are useful in detecting and characterizing biliary complications. Computed tomography is often used to further evaluate abnormal findings on ultrasound or for the characterization of post-operative fluid collections. The aim of this review is to discuss and illustrate the imaging findings of complications associated with liver transplantation and their role in facilitating treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-67
Number of pages25
JournalAbdominal Radiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Hepatic
  • Imaging
  • Liver
  • Transplant
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Urology
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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