Normothermic perfusion in the assessment and preservation of declined livers prior to transplantation: hyperoxia and vasoplegia - important lessons from the first 12 cases.
BACKGROUND: A programme of normothermic ex situ liver perfusion (NESLiP) was developed to facilitate better assessment and use of marginal livers, while minimising cold ischaemia. METHODS: Declined marginal livers and those offered for research were evaluated. NESLiP was performed using an erythrocyte-based perfusate. Viability was assessed with reference to biochemical changes in the perfusate. RESULTS: 12 livers (9 from circulatory death (DCD) and 3 from brain-dead donors), median Donor Risk Index 2.15, were subjected to NESLiP for a median 284 minutes (range 122-530) after an initial cold storage period of 427 minutes (range 222-877). The first 6 livers were perfused at high perfusate oxygen tensions, and the subsequent 6 at near-physiologic oxygen tensions. After transplantation, 5 of the first 6 recipients developed postreperfusion syndrome and 4 had sustained vasoplegia; 1 recipient experienced primary nonfunction in conjunction with a difficult explant. The subsequent 6 liver transplants, with livers perfused at lower oxygen tensions, reperfused uneventfully. Three DCD liver recipients developed cholangiopathy, and this was associated with an inability to produce an alkali bile during NESLiP. CONCLUSIONS: NESLiP enabled assessment and transplantation of 12 livers that may otherwise not have been used. Avoidance of hyperoxia during perfusion may prevent postreperfusion syndrome and vasoplegia, and monitoring biliary pH, rather than absolute bile production, may be important in determining the likelihood of posttransplant cholangiopathy. NESLiP has the potential to increase liver utilization, but more work is required to define factors predicting good outcomes.This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CCBY), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.