Background. Hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT) is a cause of morbidity and graft loss in approximately 7% of patients after an orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). Although technical problems are often thought to be the cause of HAT, in general the etiology remains unclear. Because cytomegalovirus (CMV) can infect endothelial cells in vitro and lead to a rapid procoagulant response, it can be hypothesized that, in the absence of CMV antibodies, latent CMV in an allograft may become activated and promote or contribute to vascular thrombosis. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between CMV serology of the donor and recipient with the development of HAT after OLT. Methods. Between July 1988 and November 1995 (University of Wisconsin era), 490 OLTs were performed in 413 patients. Subsequently, four patients were excluded in whom the CMV serology results of the donor were not available. Sixteen of the 409 patients developed HAT within 30 days after liver transplantation. The control group consisted of the other 393 patients. Results. The incidence of HAT was 12.5% in 64 CMV D+R- patients and 0% in 52 CMV D-R- patients. However, in the other combinations (D+R+ and D-R+), the incidence was only 2.8% (P=0.005). Eight of the 16 patients with HAT belonged to the CMV D+R- group. Conclusions. We conclude that CMV-seronegative patients receiving a seropositive allograft may be at risk for early HAT. Seropositivity of the donor alone and of the recipient alone was not significantly related to the incidence of HAT. Prophylactic treatment with ganciclovir and/or anticoagulation should be evaluated to prevent this complication.
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