Rapid and reliable assessment of hepatic graft viability is important for successful orthotopic liver transplantation (OLTx). OLTx was performed in 11 pairs of pigs via a venovenous bypass. Six of these grafts were transplanted immediately (group A), while the other five were preserved in University of Wisconsin (UW) solution for 24 h and then transplanted (group B). All grafts were flushed with 300 ml of chilled (4°C) Ringer's lactate solution before reperfusion of the graft, when 20 ml of effluent from the graft was collected and the concentrations of ammonia, lactic acid, GOT, and LDH were measured. Four of the six pigs in group A survived longer than 3 days, while the other two pigs died of causes other than graft dysfunction. All five pigs in group B died either of hemoperitoneum or hemodynamic instability due to liver failure. The histology of postperfusion biopsies in group A showed minimal pathological changes, while the grafts in group B revealed moderate to severe ischemic injuries. Ammonia and lactic acid in the effluent of group B were significantly higher than those of group A (1511±216 vs 417±333 μg/dl and 114.1±12.2 vs 91.4±12.2 mg/dl, respectively; P<0.05 in both cases). Before reperfusion, the rate of total adenine nucleotides in all of the substances in the graft, which were measured using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), inversely correlated with the ammonia levels in the effluent. We conclude that an analysis of the effluent, (i.e. the levels of ammonia and lactic acid), flushed from a hepatic graft before reperfusion could serve as a predictor of hepatic graft viability.
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