Extracorporeal support with a cadaver liver as a bridge to transplantation

L. W. Fristoe, J. H. Merrill, J. A. Kangas, J. E. Vogel, A. H. Stammers, A. N. Langnas, I. J. Fox, B. W. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Extracorporeal liver perfusion (ECLP) has been used for detoxifying blood in patients in class IV hepatic encephalopathy. Palliation of the moribund patient utilizing extracorporeal devices with cross-circulation of a cadaver liver has been documented for over three decades. Common problems associated with this procedure which appear in the literature include cadaver liver distention, increased resistance to blood flow, and limited time of extracorporeal support due to cadaver liver failure. This report summarizes the experiences of the perfusion team in utilizing an extracorporeal circuit with an otherwise nontransplantable cadaveric liver, to support the decompensating hepatic patient as a bridge to transplantation. Between January and July 1992, three patients were supported for hepatic failure with ECLP. Two patients were placed on ECLP with a modified circuit containing two positive displacement pumps and one centrifugal pump. The third patient was placed on ECLP with a circuit that contained two centrifugal pumps and one positive displacement pump. Patient age ranged from 6 to 38 years and length of support ranged from 24 to 72 hours. In all three patients, a centrifugal pump was placed in the suprahepatic inferior vena cava line to facilitate cadaver liver drainage and decompression. Intensive monitoring of both patient and cadaver liver hemodynamics, hepatic function, and hematological status was performed. All three patients were successfully weaned from ECLP. Two patients received successful orthotopic liver transplantation. The third died of complications unrelated to ECLP after support was discontinued. At present, the technique of ECLP has been shown to be an effective treatment for supporting the comatose patient with fulminant hepatic failure prior to transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-139
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Extra-Corporeal Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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