Objective(s): Death occurs in half of all children with fulminant hepatic failure (FHF). Although liver transplantation (LT) is potentially life-saving, there are only a few published series with limited experience. The aim was to examine predictors of survival after LT for FHF.
Methods: Between 1984 and 2008, all LT for FHF performed in recipients less than or equal to 18 years of age were analyzed from a prospectively maintained database using 35 demographic, laboratory, and operative variables. Unique calculated variables included creatinine clearance (cCrCl) and Pediatric End-Stage Liver Disease score (PELD). Study end-points were patient and death censored graft survival. Median follow-up was 98 months. Statistical analysis involved the log-rank test and Cox proportional hazards model.
Results: A total of 122 children underwent 159 LTx. Cryptogenic was the primary etiology (70%) and the median age was 53 months. The significant (P < 0.05) univariate predictors of worse graft survival were: recipient age <24 months, cCrCl <60 mL/min/1.73m2, PELD >25 points, and warm ischemia time >60 minutes. The significant (P < 0.05) univariate predictors of worse patient survival were: recipient African-American and Asian race, recipient age <24 months, cCrCl <60 mL/min/1.73m2, and time from onset jaundice to encephalopathy <7 days. On multivariate analysis, survival was significantly impacted by 4 variables: cCrCl <60 mL/min/1.73m2 (GRAFT and PATIENT), PELD >25 points (GRAFT), recipient age <24 months (GRAFT), and time from onset jaundice to encephalopathy <7 days (PATIENT). While overall 5- and 10-year survival was 73% and 72% (GRAFT) and 77% and 73% (PATIENT), these were significantly worse when a combination of multivariate risk-factors were present.
Conclusions: This data from a large, single-center experience demonstrates that LT is the treatment of choice for FHF and results in durable survival. Analysis revealed 4 novel outcome predictors. Young children with rapid onset acute liver failure are a high-risk subpopulation. Unique to this study, cCrCl and PELD accurately predicted the end-points. This analysis identifies patient subpopulations requiring early aggressive intervention with LT.