Hypothesis: Protocol Doppler ultrasonography of the liver (DUSL) is useful for detecting early hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT). Urgent exploration based on DUSL findings and immediate revascularization of the liver may avoid HAT-related sequelae, namely, biliary complications and retransplantation after pediatric liver transplantation. Design: Case-control study. Setting: University hospital. Patients: Group 1 included 96 liver transplantations performed in 75 pediatric patients from June 1, 1994, to August 31, 1999. Group 2 included 43 liver transplantations performed in 39 pediatric patients from September 1, 1999, to September 30, 2001. Intervention: In group 1, DUSL was performed on the first posttransplantation day or on request. Angiographic confirmation of suggested HAT was treated with thrombolysis, angioplasty, or thrombectomy. In group 2, protocol DUSL was performed every 12 hours in the first week and every 24 hours in the second week. The suspicion of HAT warranted urgent surgery without the patient undergoing angiography. Main Outcome Measures: Incidence of HAT, biliary complications, and retransplantation. Graft and patient survival. Hospital stay, and number of admissions and operations after undergoing HAT. Results: The incidence of HAT was 10.4% (10 of 96 transplantations) in group 1 and 7.0% (3 of 43 transplantations) in group 2. The incidence of biliary complications after HAT was 100% in group 1 and 0% in group 2 (P = .02). The incidence of retransplantation after HAT was 90.0% (9 of 10 patients) in group 1 and 0% in group 2 (P = .01). Of the 10 patients who experienced HAT in group 1, 5 patients underwent early retransplantation (mean length of time, 13.2 days). All 5 patients who did not undergo early retransplantation had biliary complications. Four of these 5 patients underwent retrasplantation at a later time (mean length of time, 687 days). In group 2, DUSL identified early HAT in 3 patients (7.0%). Emergent thrombectomy and arterial reconstruction were undertaken. All 3 (100%) have their original graft and are alive. None experienced biliary complications. One-year graft and patient survival is 72.0% and 84.0%, respectively, in group 1 and 80.0% and 85.0%, respectively, in group 2. Shorter hospital stay, fewer readmissions, and surgery after HAT were noted in group 2. Conclusions: Protocol DUSL detects early HAT and urgent revascularization based on DUSL can significantly reduce the incidence of biliary complication and graft loss requiring retransplantation in pediatric liver transplantation.
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