Bleeding and thrombotic complications of pediatric liver transplant

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Abstract

Background

Pediatric patients undergoing liver transplant are at significant risk for bleeding and thrombotic complications due to the complex nature of rebalanced hemostasis in patients with liver disease.

Methods/objectives

We reviewed records of 92 pediatric liver and multivisceral transplant cases at Duke University Medical Center between January 2009 and December 2015. The goal was to define the nature and incidence of bleeding and thrombotic complications in this cohort and define potential risk factors.

Results

There were 24 major bleeding events in 19 transplants (incidence 20.7%) and 30 thrombotic events in 23 transplants (incidence 25%). Five of the 10 retransplantations were for vascular thrombotic complications. Thirty-day mortality was 4.9%, and three of these four deaths were due to vascular thrombosis. No bleeding events led to retransplantation or mortality. Prophylactic aspirin was associated with decreased risk of thrombosis without increased bleeding. Prophylactic heparin did not increase bleeding risk. Laboratory assays predicted events poorly, apparently failing to capture the nuanced and dynamic interplay between pro- and anticoagulant factors in the posttransplant patient.

Conclusions

Both bleeding and thrombosis are frequent in this population, but only thrombotic complications contributed to retransplantation and mortality. A standardized approach to coagulation testing and antithrombotic therapy may be useful in predicting and reducing adverse outcomes. Alternative approaches to monitoring hemostasis need to be prospectively investigated in this complex patient population.

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