Surgical complications in children after liver transplantation

Ron Bilik, M. Yellen, Riccardo A. Superina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Scopus citations


The frequency of surgical complications after liver transplantation remains high. Sixty transplants were done in 48 patients during years. Eleven patients were retransplanted (retransplant rate, 20%) for primary nonfunction (6), arterial thrombosis (3), warm ischemia (1), and rejection (2). Right pleural effusions were drained in 13 patients and left ones in 2. Forty-eight reexplorations excluding retransplantation were performed in 20 patients. Twelve laparotomies were for control of postoperative intraabdominal bleeding. The majority of these patients ( 8 10, 80%) were transplanted with reduced-size grafts. Early postoperative vascular complications were detected in 12 grafts (5 portal vein occlusions, 7 arterial thromboses). All 5 patients with portal vein (PV) occlusions were reexplored, and PV flow was reestablished in all 5. Biliary leaks were diagnosed in 6 patients and were associated with arterial thromboses in 2 cases. Reoperation was required in 4 of 6 patients. Bowel perforation occurred in 4 patients: 2 small bowel, 1 duodenum, and 1 colon. There was 1 postoperative bowel obstruction requiring laparotomy. Two splenectomies were required in 4 patients with splenic infarction. Resection of part of a transplanted liver was done in 1 patient to exclude septic infarcts. Pancreatitis was diagnosed in 4 patients and one required laparotomy for control of pancreatic hemorrhage. Intraabdominal abscesses required open drainage in 2 patients and percutaneous drainage in 4. Seven thoracotomies were done in 6 patients: 5 open lung biopsies, 1 for control of hemorrhage, and 1 for diaphragmatic plication. The current high survival rates following liver transplantation require aggressive surgical management of a myriad of complications and numerous procedures are necessary both as treatment modalities and as diagnostic aids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1371-1375
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1992


  • Liver
  • pediatric
  • transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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