Background. We undertook this study to understand the causes of late graft loss and long-term outcome in orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) recipients. Methods. Prospectively collected data of 1174 consecutive OLT in 1045 adult patients who received liver grafts between April 1985 and August 1995 were reviewed. The causes of graft loss, pretransplant patient characteristics, and posttransplant events were analyzed in patients who survived at least i year after OLT, in an attempt to establish a link between these factors and graft loss. Results. One hundred fifty-nine (17.9%) grafts were lost after the first year. Of these, 132 grafts were lost by death and 27 by retransplantation. Recipients who survived the first year (n=884) had 5- and 10-year survivals of 81.4% and 67.2%, respectively. Death with a functioning graft occurred in 97 (61%) patients. The main causes of late graft loss were recurrent disease (n=48), cardiovascular and cerebral vascular accidents (n=28), infections (n=24), and chronic rejection (n=15). Pretransplant heart disease and diabetes were found to be significant risk factors for late graft loss due to cardiovascular diseases and cerebral vascular accidents. Conclusions. Survival of OLT patients who live beyond the first posttransplant year is excellent. Some patient characteristics may be associated with late graft loss. Compared with previous reports, this study shows an increased incidence of late graft loss secondary to recurrent diseases, de novo malignancies cardiovascular diseases, and cerebral vascular accidents. Chronic rejection seems to be a less frequent cause of late graft loss. The prevention of recurrent disease and better immunosuppression may further improve these results.
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