BACKGROUND: Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) in a well-selected population is a highly successful procedure, with one-year survival rates reported to be as high as 90%. Advanced age is considered to be a contraindication. Survival rates in patients >60 years of age appear to be comparable with those of younger patients. However, little objective data exist on the outcomes of patients >65 years of age undergoing OLT.OBJECTIVE: To review the outcomes of OLT in the Irish National Transplant Unit in patients >65 years of age and to compare outcomes with patients ≤65 years of age. Second, to identify any factors that may provide valuable prognostic information regarding outcomes.METHOD: Patients >65 years of age who underwent OLT since the inception of the National Liver Unit in 1993 were identified from a prospectively maintained database. Medical records were reviewed. Survival was compared with the overall cohort using the Kaplan-Meier technique. Independent variables between the two groups were assessed using logistic regression analysis.RESULTS: Between January 1993 and December 2009, 551 patients underwent 639 transplants in the Irish National Liver Transplant Unit. Forty-three transplants were performed in 40 patients >65 years of age. Unadjusted one- and three-year survival rates for the elderly cohort were 77.8% and 64.5%, respectively. This compared with 93% and 85%, respectively, in the unselected cohort. Using Kaplan-Meier analysis, a significant benefit in survival was observed in patients ≤65 years of age (P=0.017). Similarly, when adjusted for sex, a significant difference was noted between the groups. Male patients >65 years of age had poorer survival compared with their female counterparts >65 years of age and all patients ≤65 years of age (P=0.02). There was no significant difference between the groups with respect to preoperative variables such as bilirubin, creatinine and sodium levels, and Model for End-stage Liver Disease score. A significant difference was seen in male patients >65 years of age with more than one comorbidity, compared with female patients and male patients ≤65 years of age.CONCLUSION: Male sex was associated with poorer survival in patients >65 years of age undergoing OLT. Multiple comorbidities in elderly male patients should be considered a relative contraindication in patients being assessed for OLT.