Early Intra-Abdominal Infections Associated With Orthotopic Liver Transplantation

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Postoperative infections remain a significant problem among liver transplant recipients (LTRs). An early cause of morbidity after liver transplantation is intra-abdominal infection (IAI) about which there are limited data.


We report a retrospective review of 169 adult LTRs from January 1, 2002 to June 9, 2006, comparing those who developed early postoperative IAI (peritonitis, biliary tract infection, abdominal abscess, or enteritis) with those who did not to identify clinical features and risk factors, analyze epidemiology, and assess graft and patient survival.


Sixty-eight patients (40%) had 104 infections, with 148 pathogens isolated. Leukocytosis (53%) and fever (34%) were the most common clinical features, and peritonitis (43%) was the most common manifestation. Enterococcus spp., the most frequent single pathogens, comprised 26% of organisms cultured. There were significant associations of IAI with pretransplant ascites (P=0.002), posttransplant dialysis (P=0.015), and non-IAI surgical complications (P<0.001). There was a trend toward graft failure in patients with IAI (P=0.051) but increased mortality was not associated with IAI. Use of pretransplant antibiotics was significantly associated with development of multiple drug–resistant organisms in IAI (P=0.032).


IAI occurred at a relatively high rate in the early postoperative period, and fever was not a major indicator. In patients receiving antibiotics within 2 weeks before transplantation, multiple drug–resistant organisms often caused IAI. In addition, the presence of pretransplant ascites, posttransplant dialysis, and wound infection or reoperation after transplant should alert one to the increased risk of IAI in LTRs.

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