Posttransplant survival in pediatric fulminant hepatic failure: the SPLIT experience.
Pediatric patients with fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) tend to be the sickest and have the most urgent need for a liver transplant. The purpose of this analysis was to identify factors associated with posttransplant survival in this subset of patients. Data on all FHF patients registered in the Studies of Pediatric Liver Transplantation (SPLIT) registry from 1995 to 2002 were analyzed. Demographics such as age, gender, race, weight, and etiology of liver disease were recorded. Pretransplant degree of encephalopathy; intubation; dialysis; laboratory parameters such as serum bilirubin and international normalized ratio of coagulopathy (INR); and type of graft: cadaveric whole, cadaveric technical variant, or living donor were analyzed to determine effects on patient survival. Overall, FHF accounted for 12.9% (141 / 1,092) of primary transplants performed between 1995 and 2002. The etiology of liver disease was unknown in the vast majority of children (126 / 141; 89.4%). Mortality while on the waiting list for FHF children is significantly higher than for children with other liver disease (P < .0001). Six-month survival posttransplant for patients with FHF (74.5%) is significantly lower (P < .0001) than those with chronic liver disease (88.9%). A multivariate model demonstrates that the highest risk group includes those children with grade 4 encephalopathy (P < .0001), infants less than 1 year of age (P = .018), and children requiring dialysis prior to transplantation (P = .002). Pretransplant bilirubin and INR were not significant predictors of posttransplant survival after controlling for the other significant factors. Living donor and split / reduced grafts did not have a significantly increased risk of posttransplant death compared to whole grafts. In conclusion, despite advances in the surgical techniques and changes in organ allocation, pediatric patients with FHF continue to have a high pretransplant mortality and less successful posttransplant survival compared to children with chronic liver disease.