Acute Pancreatitis After Orthotopic Liver Transplantation in Children: Incidence, Contributing Factors, and Outcome

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Acute pancreatitis after orthotopic liver transplantation is a well-known complication in adults that has never been described in children. In adults, end-stage liver disease related to hepatitis B, intraoperative pancreatic injury caused by extensive peripancreatic dissection, the type of biliary anastomosis performed, and numerous drugs, have all been described as predisposing factors in acute pancreatitis after liver transplantation. The current retrospective review was undertaken to identify the incidence, the contributing factors, and the outcome of acute pancreatitis after liver transplantation in children.


During a 10-year period, 375 children underwent 434 liver transplantations in the authors' institution. In seven patients (1.9%), clinical acute pancreatitis developed after orthotopic liver transplantation. Indication for initial liver transplantation was biliary atresia (n = 3), acute liver failure (n = 3), and type 1 Crigler-Najjar syndrome. In all seven patients, liver graft function was initially adequate. The diagnosis of acute pancreatitis was based on clinical, biochemical, ultrasonographic, and surgical signs.


In six patients, acute pancreatitis appeared within the first week after transplantation. The diagnosis was confirmed by abdominal laparotomy in five children. In the current series, emergency liver transplantation (p< 0.001), retransplantations (p < 0.001), and infectious peritonitis (p < 0.001) were contributing factors. Despite supportive measures, three patients died (43%) because of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome.


Acute pancreatitis is an uncommon but life-threatening complication after liver transplantation in children. Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment of infectious complications are major elements in the management of acute pancreatitis after liver transplantation.

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