Issue: 2007 > July/August > original article

Current health status of patients who have survived for more than 15 years after liver transplantation

L. de Kroon, G. Drent, A.P. van den Berg, E.B. Haagsma


Background: Liver transplantation was started in our centre as early as 1979. We have studied the clinical outcome of patients surviving longer than 15 years, with special interest for the broad range of comorbidity and the self-perceived quality of life.
Methods: All patients who underwent a liver transplantation at an adult age, between March 1979 and February 1991, and who had survived at least 15 years were eligible for the study. Data were collected from the medical records. Health-related quality of life was assessed using the Six-Dimensional EuroQol test.
Results: The five-year survival of patients alive 15 years after transplantation was 78%. Thirty-seven patients are currently alive with a median follow-up of 18.8 years (range 15.0 to 26.8) after transplantation. Comorbidity consists predominantly of overweight (57%), osteoporosis (49%), <i>de novo</i> cancer (38%,
mainly skin cancer), hypertension (38%), cardiovascular
events (19%), diabetes mellitus (22%), cataract (24%), and renal clearance <50 ml/min (11%). Eight patients (22%) underwent a retransplantation, and compensated cirrhosis is present in four patients (11%). The pattern of comorbidity seems to relate to the type of immunosuppression which consisted mainly of prednisolone and azathioprine. Quality of life was perceived as satisfactory (7 on a scale of 0 to 10).
However, about half of the patients reported limitations in the domains mobility, usual activities and pain/discomfort. In addition a minority reported some anxiety or depression.
Conclusion. The outcome of liver transplantation in this
early cohort of patients is fairly good. Improvements may be achieved by adaptations in the immunosuppressive regimen.