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HPB Surgery
Volume 3 (1991), Issue 4, Pages 221-233
Review Article

Infections Following Orthotopic Liver Transplantation

Department of Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue, Chicago 60637, Illinois, USA

Received 3 August 1990; Accepted 10 September 1990

Copyright © 1991 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The epidemiology of infections associated with orthotopic liver transplantation is summarized herein, and approaches to prophylaxis are outlined. Infection is a major complication following orthotopic liver transplantation, and more than half of transplant recipients develop at least one infection. The risk of infection is highest in the first month after transplantation, and the most common pathogens are bacteria and cytomegalovirus (CMV). Bacterial infections usually occur in the first month, arise in the abdomen, and are caused by aerobes. The peak incidence of CMV infection is late in the first month and early in the second month after transplantationn. CMV syndromes include fever and neutropenia, hepatitis, pneumonitis, gut ulceration, and disseminated infection. Other significant problems are Candida intraabdominal infection, Herpes simplex mucocutaneous infection or hepatitis, adenovirus hepatitis, and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia.

Prophylaxis of infection in liver transplant recipients has not been well-studied. Several different regimens of parenteral, oral absorbable, and/or oral non-absorbable antibiotics active against bacteria and yeast have been used at various centers, but no randomized controlled trials have been conducted. Selective bowel decontamination appears to be a promising approach to the prevention of bacterial and Candida infections, while oral acyclovir may be a relatively convenient and effective agent for CMV prophylaxis.