Background. At our center from August 1989 to December 1992, 834 adults underwent orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) using tacrolimus as the primary immunosuppressive agent. A total of 183 adults (22%) had alcohol- related liver disease. Patients with alcoholic cirrhosis had a better though not statistically significant 5-year survival rate compared with all other patients. We were interested in specific predictors of survival, particularly for alcoholic cirrhotics who were gravely ill at the point of transplantation. Methods. For the 78 patients with alcohol-related liver disease who were United Network for Organ Sharing status IIA (critically ill) at the point of transplantation, variables of length of sobriety, alcohol rehabilitation, and medical variables (ventilator support, dialysis, vasopressor support, degree of encephalopathy, and infection) were assessed for contribution to survival. Results. Although there was a trend toward poorer survival in patients with the shortest length of sobriety (≤1 month), pre-OLT length of sobriety or alcohol rehabilitation did not predict survival. However, these patients tended to be in multiorgan failure and encephalopathic. Nevertheless, pre-OLT dialysis requirement was the only variable that predicted poorer survival (P<0.002). This study was not designed to evaluate recidivism. However, we know that 24% of these patients have used alcohol at some point after OLT. Conclusions. Short pre-OLT length of sobriety may not predict which patients are likely to resume alcohol consumption after OLT, but it may identify patients in whom there will exist a variety of poor outcome variables. In our study, in these patients, post- OLT survival was associated with medical rather than alcohol history variables.
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