Predictors of relapse to alcohol and illicit drugs after liver transplantation for alcoholic liver disease

Roberto Gedaly, Patrick P. Mchugh, Thomas D. Johnston, Hoonbae Jeon, Alvaro Koch, Timothy M. Clifford, Dinesh Ranjan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (SciVal)


BACKGROUND.: Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is a common indication for transplantation worldwide. This study identifies factors predicting posttransplant recidivism. METHODS.: Clinical and laboratory data were reviewed. Uni- and multivariate analyses for survival and relapse to alcohol and illicit drugs were performed. RESULT.: Between July 1995 and November 2007, 387 patients underwent liver transplantation at our institution. Of these, 147 patients (38%) were found to have ALD. Five patients (3.4%) were excluded because of perioperative mortality. Overall survival was 96.2%, 89.6%, and 84.4% at 1, 3, and 5 years, respectively, with a median follow-up of 41.2 months. Twenty-seven patients (19%) returned to alcohol after transplantation. By univariate analysis, depression was the only significant factor affecting survival (P=0.01), whereas posttransplant relapse to alcohol trended toward significance (P=0.059). Multivariate analysis showed both factors to be independently associated with poor survival (P=0.008 and 0.017, respectively). Factors associated with relapse included less than 12 months of abstinence before transplant (P=0.019) and participation in rehabilitation (P=0.026). Multivariate analysis showed pretransplant abstinence less than 12 months as the only independent factor (P=0.037) associated with alcohol relapse after transplantation. Twenty-five patients (17.2%) had documented drug use after transplantation. Drug abuse before transplantation was the only independent predictor of drug abuse after transplantation (P=0.017). CONCLUSIONS.: Excellent results can be obtained in patients undergoing liver transplantation for ALD, though depression and recidivism adversely impact survival. In our series, abstinence less than 12 months was associated with relapse to alcohol. Similarly, those with prior drug abuse are more likely to continue drug use after transplantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1090-1095
Number of pages6
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 27 2008


  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Liver transplantation
  • Relapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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