BACKGROUND: Hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT) after liver transplantation for biliary atresia (BA) is a serious complication that most often leads to retransplantation (re-OLT). The purpose of the present study was: (1) to identify risk factors associated with HAT and (2) to analyze the impact of recently introduced microsurgical hepatic arterial reconstruction (MHR) on the incidence of HAT, subsequent need for re-OLT, and patient survival. METHODS: A retrospective review of 194 patients transplanted for BA was performed. One hundred and sixty-six patients (group 1) underwent conventional arterial reconstruction and 28 (group 2) had MHR. RESULTS: Actuarial survival for patients with HAT was significantly worse than for patients without HAT at 1, 2, and 5 years (71%, 61%, and 57% versus 85%, 85%, and 85%, P = 0.0007). Stepwise logistic regression analysis revealed that the risk of HAT correlated best with the type of arterial reconstruction (P = 0.007) followed by pretransplant bilirubin concentration (P = 0.04) and the number of acute rejection episodes (P = 0.03). In group 1, 32 patients developed HAT (19%), and of these, 18 underwent re-OLT for HAT. No patient in group 2 developed HAT (P = 0.006 versus group 1). One-year actuarial patient survival was 81% in group 1 and 100% in group 2 (P = 0.02). CONCLUSIONS: In OLT for BA, (1) the predominant risk factor for HAT is the technique of arterial reconstruction, and (2) MHR markedly reduces the incidence of HAT and the need for re-OLT while improving patient survival.
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