Outcomes after orthotopic liver transplantation for chronic hepatitis C have been reported to be worsening over the last 2 decades. We analyzed our center's experience over 15 years to identify trends in post-orthotopic liver transplantation survival in patients with and without hepatitis C virus infection. Patient survival and graft survival among adult primary orthotopic liver transplantation recipients who survived more than 90 days from January 1991 to June 2006 at the Baylor Regional Transplant Institute (n = 1901) were evaluated by Kaplan-Meier analysis. Those with or without hepatitis C virus infection were analyzed by era: era 1, 1991-1994 (n = 473); era 2, 1995-1998 (n = 421); era 3, 1999-2002 (n = 498); and era 4, 2003-2006 (n = 512). Differences in eras with disparate survivals were assessed by univariate and multivariable analysis. Overall, patient survival and graft survival were significantly lower among hepatitis C virus infection recipients compared to those without hepatitis C virus infection (P = 0.001). This difference was dependent on the era of transplantation, with progressive improvement in hepatitis C virus patient (P b 0.001) and graft (P b 0.001) survival in sequential eras. Several factors accounted for this improvement, notably better selection of hepatocellular carcinoma patients and fewer late cytomegalovirus infections. Improvement occurred despite an increase in the ages of both donors and recipients. In conclusion, posttransplant survival after orthotopic liver transplantation for chronic hepatitis C has improved significantly over the last 15 years despite demographic changes in patients and grafts that have been previously shown to impair survival. A major reason for this improvement is better selection of patients with concurrent hepatocellular carcinoma and fewer late cytomegalovirus infections, although other factors may play a role as well.
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