Initial graft function following liver transplantation is a major determinant of postoperative survival and morbidity. Primary graft nonfunction (PNF) is uncommon; however, it is one of the most serious and life-threatening conditions in the immediate postoperative period. The risk factors associated with PNF and short-term outcome have been previously reported, but there are no reports of long-term follow-up after retransplant for PNF. At our institution, 52 liver transplants had PNF (2.22%) among 2,341 orthotopic liver transplants in 2,130 patients from 1984 to 2003. PNF occurred more often in the retransplant setting. Female donors, donor age, donor days in the intensive care unit, cold ischemia time, and operating room time were significant factors for PNF. Patient as well as graft survival of retransplant for PNF was not different compared to retransplant for other causes. However, PNF for a second or third transplant did not demonstrate long-term survival, and hospital mortality was 57%. In conclusion, retransplant for PNF in the initial transplant can achieve relatively good long-term survival; however, if another transplant is needed in the setting of a second PNF, the third retransplant should probably not be done due to poor expected outcome.
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