Good outcome after liver transplantation for ALD without a 6 months abstinence rule prior to transplantation including post-transplant CDT monitoring for alcohol relapse assessment – a retrospective study

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Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is the second most common indication for liver transplantation (LT). The utility of fixed intervals of abstinence prior to listing is still a matter of discussion. Furthermore, post-LT long-term observation is challenging, and biomarkers as carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) may help to identify alcohol relapse. We retrospectively analyzed data from patients receiving LT for ALD from 1996 to 2012. A defined period of alcohol abstinence prior to listing was not a precondition, and abstinence was evaluated using structured psychological interviews. A total of 382 patients received LT for ALD as main (n = 290) or secondary (n = 92) indication; median follow-up was 73 months (0–213). One- and five-year patient survival and graft survival rates were 82% and 69%, and 80% and 67%, respectively. A total of 62 patients (16%) experienced alcohol relapse. Alcohol relapse did not have a statistically significant effect on patient survival (P = 0.10). Post-transplant CDT measurements showed a sensitivity and specificity of 84% and 85%, respectively. In conclusion, this large single-center analysis showed good post-transplant long-term results in patients with ALD when applying structured psychological interviews before listing. Relapse rates were lower than those reported in the literature despite using a strict definition of alcohol relapse. Furthermore, post-LT CDT measurement proved to be a useful supplementary tool for detecting alcohol relapse.

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