Due to the significant increase in the number of patients with alcoholic liver cirrhosis being referred for liver transplantation, studies to determine recidivism rates and influential factors affecting those rates have become increasingly crucial. Between 12/85 and 12/91, 67 patients diagnosed with alcohol related end-stage liver disease underwent orthotopic liver transplantation at Baylor University Medical Center. A 3-8 year follow-up study was conducted wherein surviving patients were contacted by phone to evaluate subsequent alcohol consumption following transplantation (with the exception of two patients whose primary physicians were contacted). Of the 67 patients transplanted, 18 had expired, 7 were alive but unavailable, and 1 had been lost to follow-up. Of the remaining 41 patients interviewed, 21 had remained abstinent, while the other 20 had returned to some form of drinking. Of patients with less than 6 months of pretransplant abstinence, only 30% remained abstinent, while the other 70% had resumed drinking. Regarding patients with at least 6 months of pretransplant abstinence, 58% had remained abstinent, while the other 42% had resumed drinking. In both groups, nearly 1/3 of those who had admitted to posttransplant drinking reported themselves as again abstinent and recommitted to sobriety when interviewed. In conclusion, 49% of patients interviewed had resumed some type of drinking following transplantation- however, this appears not to have affected compliance or survival potential. Only 2 (4.8%) of the 41 patients interviewed had returned to excessive drinking. Thus, our findings support the use of orthotopic liver transplantation for patients with alcohol related end-stage liver disease.
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