Intraoperative pulmonary embolism and intracardiac thrombosis complicating liver transplantation: A systematic review

N. Warnaar, I. Q. Molenaar, S. D. Colquhoun, M. J.H. Slooff, S. Sherwani, A. M. De Wolf, Robert J. Porte*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Background: Pulmonary embolism (PE) and intracardiac thrombosis (ICT) are rare but potentially lethal complications during orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). Methods: We aimed to review clinical and pathological correlates of PE and ICT in patients undergoing OLT. A systematic review of the literature was conducted using MEDLINE and ISI Web of Science. Results: Seventy-four cases of intraoperative PE and/or ICT were identified; PE alone in 32 patients (43%) and a combination of PE and ICT in 42 patients (57%). Most frequent clinical symptoms included systemic hypotension and concomitant rising pulmonary artery pressure, often leading to complete circulatory collapse. PE and ICT occurred in every stage of the operation and were reported equally in patients with or without the use of venovenous bypass or antifibrinolytics. A large variety of putative risk factors have been suggested in the literature, including the use of pulmonary artery catheters or certain blood products. Nineteen patients underwent urgent thrombectomy or thrombolysis. Overall mortality was 68% (50/74) and 41 patients (82%) died intraoperatively. Conclusion: Mortality was significantly higher in patients with an isolated PE, compared to patients with a combination of PE and ICT (91% and 50%, respectively; P < 0.001). Intraoperative PE and ICT during OLT appear to have multiple etiologies and may occur unexpectedly at any time during the procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-302
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Anti-Fibrinolytics
  • Intracardiac thrombosis
  • Liver transplantation
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Thromboembolic complication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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