Patients with hepatic iron overload who undergo orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) have a worse 1-year survival than those who undergo transplantation for other indications; the long-term outcome in this population is unknown. The purpose of this study is to report long-term follow-up after OLT in a cohort of patients with hepatic iron overload. Five liver transplant centers in the United States reported follow-up data on 37 patients receiving a first liver transplant who had severe hepatic iron overload in their native livers. Kaplan-Meier 5-year survival among these patients was compared with survival data from all age-matched liver transplantations reported to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) over the same time period (1987 to 1993). The 5-year survival rate after OLT was 40% in the hepatic iron overload group compared with an overall survival rate of 62% for all patient groups from the UNOS registry (P = .0009). Although sepsis was the cause of 53% of all deaths occurring within the first year after OLT, cardiac complications accounted for 50% of the late mortality in patients with hepatic iron overload. In conclusion, long-term survival after OLT is significantly decreased in patients with hepatic iron overload. Infectious and cardiac complications are the most common causes of death in these patients. Further studies are needed to define the relationship between hepatic iron overload and mortality and to examine the effect of iron depletion on outcome after OLT in this patient population.
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