Of 83 patients who underwent 100 orthotopic liver transplantations, 53 had a single transplant procedure and at least 6 months of follow-up. In this main study group of 53 patients, major infections developed in 28 (53%) (a mean of 1.8 major episodes per infected patient). Of 51 major infections, 27 were bacterial, 19 were viral, 3 were protozoan, and 2 were fungal. Of the 27 bacterial infections, 22 (81%) occurred in the first 2 months after transplantation. Of the 40 bacterial isolates in the 27 bacterial infections, gram-positive aerobic bacteria were isolated in 26 (65%), anaerobic bacteria in 8 (20%), and aerobic gram-negative bacteria in 6 (15%). Only 1 of 16 bacteremic episodes was due to a gram-negative aerobic bacterium. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection occurred in 30 of the 53 patients (57%) and was symptomatic and invasive in 18. CMV infection was diagnosed a mean of 26 days after transplantation. Infections due to Pneumocystis carinii occurred later (2 to 3 months after transplantation). Death from infection occurred in 4 of the 53 patients (8%). In the group of 16 patients with two or more liver transplantations, fungal infection occurred in 2 and CMV infection in 13. In all 16 patients who underwent more than one liver transplantation, a major infection developed. The observations made in the main study group were consistent with findings in 13 patients with one liver transplantation but less than 6 months of follow-up. Infection is a major complication after liver transplantation, generally occurring in the first 2 months. Our observations suggest that the use of selective bowel decontamination may be associated with a relatively lower incidence of gram-negative aerobic bacterial infections.
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