Timing of liver transplantation in biliary atresia-results in 71 children managed by a multidisciplinary team

Robert A. Cowles, Steven J. Lobritto, Kara A. Ventura, Patricia A. Harren, Rondi Gelbard, Jean C. Emond, R. Peter Altman, Dominique M. Jan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: Kasai portoenterostomy (KP) remains the initial surgical therapy for biliary atresia (BA). Liver transplantation (LTx) is offered after a failed KP or if KP is not feasible. The timing of LTx in these children is not well established. We attempted to define factors that may help choose the optimal timing for LTx in children with BA managed by a multidisciplinary team including a pediatric surgeon, hepatologist, and liver transplant surgeon. Methods: Records of children who underwent LTx for BA at our institution between January 1998 and December 2006 were reviewed. Clinical data such as pre-LTx pediatric end-stage liver disease (PELD) score, location of KP, and outcome were evaluated. Results: Seventy one children underwent 77 liver transplants for BA at an average age of 25 months (range, 3-216 months). Sixty-one had a previous KP, 30 at our institution. Ten had LTx without KP. The overall patient survival was 94.4% and overall graft survival was 87% at median follow-up of 58 months (range, 6-111 months). Four patients died, 1 because of vascular thrombosis despite repeat LTx, 1 because of fungal infection after LTx, and 2 because of causes unrelated to LTx. Six children required retransplantation. Living donor liver transplantation was performed in 32 of these children with 91% patient and graft survival. Fifty-three children had a PELD score of 10 or higher with patient and graft survivals of 92% and 86%, respectively. Eighteen children had a PELD score of less than 10 with patient and graft survivals of 100%. For the 30 children who underwent KP at our institution, the median age at LTx was 9 months (range, 3-168 months), and patient and graft survival were both 93%. Conclusions: Outcome of LTx for BA is excellent. Children with higher PELD scores (≥10) at LTx may have worse outcome. Children with a PELD score of less than 10 survived with their original grafts. In children with BA, the PELD score should be monitored and may help stratify patients for eventual LTx. When a child with BA is deemed a candidate for LTx, the PELD score should be determined. A PELD score that approaches 10 should trigger discussion of LTx and living donor liver transplantation with the family.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1605-1609
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Kasai procedure
  • Liver transplantation
  • Living donor
  • PELD
  • Portoenterostomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


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