Appraisal of donor steatosis in liver transplantation: a survey of current practice in Australia and New Zealand

Anna J Dare,1 Anthony RJ Phillips,1–3 Michael Chu,1 Anthony JR Hickey,2 Adam SJR Bartlett1–31Department of Surgery, 2Maurice Wilkins Centre for Biodiscovery, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand; 3New Zealand Liver Transplant Unit, Auckland City Hospital, Auckland, New ZealandBackground: Hepatic steatosis is increasingly encountered among organ donors. Currently, there is no consensus guideline as to the type or degree of donor steatosis considered acceptable for liver transplantation, and little is known about local practices in this area. The aim of this survey was to evaluate current clinical practices amongst liver transplant surgeons in Australia and New Zealand in the evaluation and use of steatotic donor livers in LT.Methods: An anonymous online twelve-question survey was emailed to all practicing LT surgeons in ANZ in January 2010.Results: The response rate was 83%. Estimated prevalence of steatosis in donor livers was between 40% and 60%. In determining suitability for LT, 90% of respondents reported rejecting organs with "severe" steatosis based on visual and palpation grounds alone. A total of 68% sought further histological assessment if the donor liver looked bad and there were risk factors for steatosis. The majority of respondents performed only one biopsy of the liver, using hematoxylin and eosin staining for fat assessment. There was wide variation in the upper limit of steatosis considered to be acceptable for LT. A total of 21% of respondents still considered microvesicular steatosis a risk factor for primary graft nonfunction.Conclusion: This survey highlights the significant variation in the appraisal and use of steatotic grafts by LT surgeons in ANZ. Accurate evaluation and judicious use of mild and moderately steatotic grafts is required if we are to utilize the available donor pool best.Keywords: liver transplantation, steatosis, fatty liver, organ donors.
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