The incidence of native portal vein thrombosis (PVT) in liver transplant recipients has been reported to range from 2.1 to 13.8%. We have identified an inordinately high incidence of PVT in a consecutive series of U.S. veterans receiving liver transplants. Between October 1989 and February 1994, 88 consecutive U.S. veterans received 99 orthotopic liver transplants under primary Tacrolimus (Prograf, formerly FK506) based immunosuppression. A number of clinical features were examined in an effort to identify risk factors for PVT and outcome was compared to patients without PVT. Native PVT was present in 23/88 (26%) patients. All of these patients were male U.S. veterans with a mean age of 47 years. When compared to the 65 patients without PVT, we found no significant difference with respect to underlying liver disease, age, Childs-Pugh score (mean = 12), UNOS status as defined prior to April 1995 (95% UNOS 3 or 4), previous abdominal surgery, or liver volume. Median blood loss for patients with PVT (21 units of packed red blood cells) was greater than for those without PVT (14 units, P = 0.04). Portal thrombectomy was performed in 11 patients, 11 patients required mesoportal jump grafts, and 1 patient had an interposition graft. Standard veno-venous bypass was used in 10 patients with single bypass utilized for the remainder. Actuarial patient survival for all patients at 1, 2, and 4 years was 88, 85, and 79%, respectively. There was no significant difference in patients with or without PVT. Patients with PVT had poorer graft survival than patients without PVT (86% vs 65%, 1 year; 81% vs 65%, 2 years; 81% vs 61%, 4 years; P = 0.03); however, this was not related to technical problems with the portal venous inflow. PVT occurred in 26% of U.S. veterans undergoing liver transplantation. These patients bad significantly higher operative blood loss and poorer graft survival. The high incidence of postnecrotic cirrhosis in a predominantly male group of patients with advanced disease, as is evident by the high mean Childs-Pugh score and UNOS status, perhaps accounts for our observations.
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