Sonographic evaluation of complications of liver transplantation
Primary Graft Dysfunction
This article reviews several of the major complications that occur after liver transplantation and describes radiologic modalities used to diagnose and evaluate them. To illustrate the discussion, case presentations of five patients who underwent liver transplantation at the Nazih Zuhdi Transplantation Institute at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City are given. Many of the major complications of liver transplantation can be characterized as vascular or biliary in origin. Hepatic artery thrombosis is the most dreaded complication in the immediate postoperative period because it often necessitates retransplantation. Hepatic artery stenosis can alter graft function as well. Less common arterial complications include pseudoaneurysm formation, hepatic artery rupture and arteriovenous fistula formation. Venous complications include inferior vena cava and portal vein thrombosis and stenosis. Gray-scale and color Doppler ultrasound play a primary role in detection of vascular complications. Angiography or venography may be used for definitive diagnosis. Biliary complications, such as biliary leakage or stricture, occur with some frequency after transplantation and are best evaluated with sonography, cholangiography, and nuclear medicine studies. A late complication of liver transplantation is posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder, which may be detected and evaluated by ultrasound, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging. Graft rejection is better detected by nonradiologic means.