Sonographic diagnosis and outcome of hepatic artery thrombosis after orthotopic liver transplantation in adults

Mindy M. Horrow, Beth M. Blumenthal, David J. Reich, Cosme Manzarbeitia

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53 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. The objective of our study was to determine the timing and frequency of symptomatic hepatic artery thrombosis in an adult orthotopic liver transplant population, the sensitivity of Doppler sonography for this diagnosis, and the clinical and sonography outcomes in this population. MATERIALS AND METHODS. The subjects included all adult recipients with orthotopic liver transplants during a 10.5-year period. A retrospective review of all cases of hepatic artery thrombosis detected on angiography or at surgery was correlated with sonography findings at diagnosis. Clinical and sonography outcomes were recorded. Patients were divided into early (< 1 week) and late hepatic artery thrombosis groups. Hepatic artery thrombosis was considered primary or secondary due to treatment of other hepatic artery complications. RESULTS. Of 522 transplants, 25 (4.8%) developed hepatic artery thrombosis that was primary in 18 (3.5%), with five early (1.0%) and 13 late (2.5%), and secondary in seven (1.3%). Sensitivities of sonography compared with angiography were 100% for detection of early hepatic artery thrombosis and 72.7% for late hepatic artery thrombosis. Seventeen patients (68%) with an episode of hepatic artery thrombosis are currently alive, 11 of whom have irreversible hepatic artery thrombosis; in 10 of the 11 cases, sonography showed that collateral arterial flow had developed. The mean survival was 51.4 months in the patients with irreversible hepatic artery thrombosis, eight of whom had documented biliary or septic complications (or both). CONCLUSION. Hepatic artery thrombosis is uncommon after liver transplantation in adults. Sonography is extremely sensitive for the detection of hepatic artery thrombosis in symptomatic patients during the immediate postoperative period. Sonography becomes less sensitive as the interval between transplantation and diagnosis of hepatic artery thrombosis increases due to collateral arterial flow. Patients with irreversible hepatic artery thrombosis typically develop interval arterial collaterals that can be seen on sonography. Biliary and septic complications are common but usually are self-limited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-351
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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