Infants with short bowel syndrome (SBS) and associated liver failure are often referred for combined liver/intestinal transplantation. We speculated that in some young children, nutritional autonomy would be possible with restoration of normal liver function. Features we believed to predict nutritional autonomy include history of at least 50% enteral tolerance, age less than 2 yr, and no underlying intestinal disease. This report documents our experience with liver transplantation alone in children with liver failure associated with SBS. Twenty-three children with SBS and end-stage liver disease, considered to have good prognostic features for eventual full enteral adaptation, underwent isolated liver transplantation. Median age was 11 months (range, 6.5 to 48 months). Median pretransplant weight was 7.4 kg (range, 5.2 to 15 kg). All had growth retardation and advanced liver disease. Bowel length ranged from 25 to 100 cm. Twenty-three children underwent 28 isolated liver transplants. There were 14 whole livers and 14 partial grafts (five living donors). Seventeen patients are alive at a median follow-up of 57 months (range, 6 to 121 months). Actuarial patient and graft survival rates at 1 yr are 82% and 75% and at 5 yr are 72% and 60%, respectively. Four deaths resulted from sepsis, all within 4 months of transplantation, and 1 death resulted from progressive liver failure. Two allografts developed chronic rejection; both children were successfully retransplanted with isolated livers. Of 17 surviving patients, three require supplemental intravenous support; the remaining 14 have achieved enteral autonomy, at a median of 3 months (range, 1 to 72 months) after transplantation. Linear growth is maintained and, in many, catch-up growth is evident. Median change in z score for height is 0.57 (range, -4.47 to 2.68), and median change in z score for weight is 0.42 (range, - 1.65 to 3.05). In conclusion, isolated liver transplantation in children with liver failure as a result of SBS, who have favorable prognostic features for full enteral adaptation, is feasible with satisfactory long-term survival.
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