Liver transplantation with reduced-size donor organs

Christoph E. Broelsch, Jean C. Emond, J. Richard Thistlethwaite, Dale A. Rouch, Peter F. Whitington, J. Lance Lichtor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

182 Scopus citations


Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) of the pediatric patient is often limited by the availability of a size-matched donor organ. Use of reduced liver transplantation (RLT) can increase the proportion of candidates transplanted and may reduce overall mortality. We report herein the initial clinical application of RLT in the United States. Indications for RLT included fulminant hepatic failure (n=2), acute hepatic artery thrombosis (n=3), and chronic liver disease unresponsive to inpatient support and more than 30 days on transplant list (n=4). Donor hepatectomy was performed using standard techniques. Formal hepatic resection was performed ex-vivo to create a size-matched graft, from the larger donor organ, which was implanted in the orthotopic position. Between 11/84 and 4/87, 70 pediatric patients were evaluated for OLT, and 33 of these were transplanted. During this period only 5 patients (7%) died awaiting OLT. Of 33 patients treated at the University of Chicago, 5 received RLT. Donor: recipient weight ratios ranged from 2:1 to 8.1:1. For RLT median operative blood loss was 1.7 blood volumes (range 0.5−11.7) with an operative time of 9.3+3.5 hr. Acceptable early graft function was observed in five patients, all of whom were discharged from the hospital. Four of these five patients are alive between 2 and 48 months after transplantation. Marginal graft function with cholestasis and coagulopathy was associated with acute intracranial hemorrhage and neurologic death in one case. One patient died intraoperatively with nonfunction caused by the use of a liver from a donor with steatosis and a poor size match. Another patient died on day 5 with primary nonfunction and persistant hemorrhage. Systemic cytomegalovirus infection was the cause of death in the other two cases. RLT can provide life-sustaining liver function in urgent clinical settings. The graft can serve as a temporary or permanent liver replacement. With evolution of the technique RLT could eventually be offered to more elective candidates and increase the utilization of available donors by reducing size limitations in OLT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-524
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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