Background. The Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) III prognostic system has not been previously validated in patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). We hypothesized that APACHE III would perform satisfactorily in patients after OLT. Methods. A retrospective cohort study was performed. Patients admitted to the ICU after OLT between July 1996 and May 2008 were identified. Data were abstracted from the institutional APACHE III and liver transplantation databases and individual patient medical records. Standardized mortality ratios (with 95% confidence intervals) were calculated by dividing the observed mortality rates by the rates predicted by APACHE III. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) and the Hosmer-Lemeshow C statistic were used to assess, respectively, discrimination and calibration of APACHE III. Results. APACHE III data were available for 918 admissions after OLT. Mean (standard deviation [SD]) APACHE III (APIII) and Acute Physiology (APS) scores on the day of transplant were 60.5 (25.8) and 50.8 (23.6), respectively. Mean (SD) predicted ICU and hospital mortality rates were 7.3% (15.4) and 10.6% (18.9), respectively. The observed ICU and hospital mortality rates were 1.1% and 3.4%, respectively. The standardized ICU and hospital mortality ratios with their 95% C.I. were 0.15 (0.07 to 0.27) and 0.32 (0.22 to 0.45), respectively. There were statistically significant differences in APS, APIII, predicted ICU and predicted hospital mortality between survivors and non-survivors. In predicting mortality, the AUC of APACHE III prediction of hospital death was 0.65 (95% CI, 0.62 to 0.68). The Hosmer-Lemeshow C statistic was 5.288 with a p value of 0.871 (10 degrees of freedom). Conclusion. APACHE III discriminates poorly between survivors and non-survivors of patients admitted to the ICU after OLT. Though APACHE III has been shown to be valid in heterogenous populations and in certain groups of patients with specific diagnoses, it should be used with caution - if used at all - in recipients of liver transplantation.
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