Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CE-US) after a liver transplant is highly accurate in showing vascular as well as biliary complications, according to a recent study.
The study consisted of 39 liver transplant recipients who underwent a CE-US exam after developing fluid in the abdomen and/or unclear liver function tests. "Acute liver failure is the most serious complication in the early post transplant period, caused by acute rejection, primary graft non-function, or vascular thrombosis," said Dirk Clevert, MD, lead author of the study. "Biliary complications occur in up to 10% of adults. The incidence is higher in children. Biliary obstruction has several causes, such as anastomotic strictures, hepatic artery thrombosis, non-anastomotic strictures, segmental biliary obstruction or bile leaks," he said.
According to the study, complications were identified in 43.5% of patients. Five transplants (13 %) had hepatic artery thrombosis or significant stenosis, and seven transplants (18 %) developed portal vein stenosis or portal vein thrombosis. MRA or CTA confirmed the findings of the CE-US in all cases.
"CE-US can accurately show vascular as well as biliary complications in the postoperative patient," said Dr. Clevert. "It is important to detect the complications in an early stage so patients can be treated appropriately," he said.