Liver Preservation by Aortic Perfusion Alone Compared With Preservation by Aortic Perfusion and Additional Arterial Ex Situ Back-Table Perfusion With Histidine-Tryptophan-Ketoglutarate Solution: A Prospective, Randomized, Controlled, Multicenter Study

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Arterial ex situ back-table perfusion (BP) reportedly reduces ischemic-type biliary lesion after liver transplantation. We aimed to verify these findings in a prospective investigation.


Our prospective, randomized, controlled, multicenter study involved livers retrieved from patients in 2 German regions, and compared the outcomes of standard aortic perfusion to those of aortic perfusion combined with arterial ex situ BP. The primary endpoint was the incidence of ischemic-type biliary lesions over a follow-up of 2 years after liver transplantation, whereas secondary endpoints included 2-year graft survival, initial graft damage as reflected by transaminase levels, and functional biliary parameters at 6 months after transplantation.


A total of 75 livers preserved via standard aortic perfusion and 75 preserved via standard aortic perfusion plus arterial BP were treated using a standardized protocol. The incidence of clinically apparent biliary lesions after liver transplantation (n = 9 for both groups; P = 0.947), the 2-year graft survival rate (standard aortic perfusion, 74%; standard aortic perfusion plus arterial BP, 68%; P = 0.34), and incidence of initial graft injury did not differ between the 2 perfusion modes. Although 33 of the 77 patients with cholangiography workups exhibited injured bile ducts, only 10 had clinical symptoms.


Contrary to previous findings, the present study indicated that additional ex situ BP did not prevent ischemic-type biliary lesions or ischemia-reperfusion injury after liver transplantation. Moreover, there was considerable discrepancy between cholangiography findings regarding bile duct changes and clinically apparent cholangiopathy after transplantation, which should be considered when assessing ischemic-type biliary lesions.

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