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Indications and Contraindications for Liver Transplantation

Indications for liver transplantation

1- Acute liver failure

  • Acute hepatitis A

  • Acute hepatitis B

  • Drug/toxin hepatotoxicity

2- Cirrhosis from chronic liver diseases

  • Chronic hepatitis B virus and chronic hepatitis C virus infection

  • Alcoholic liver disease

  • Autoimmune hepatitis

  • Cryptogenic liver disease

  • Primary biliary cirrhosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis

  • Secondary biliary cirrhosis

3- Metabolic disorders

  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency

  • Hereditary hemochromatosis

  • Wilson’s disease

  • Glycogen-storage disorders

  • Type 1 hyperoxaluria

  • Familial homozygous hypercholesterolemia

4- Malignancy

  • Primary hepatic cancer: hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma

  • Metastatic: carcinoid tumors and islet cell tumors

5- Miscellaneous

  • Polycystic liver disease

  • Budd-Chiari syndrome


Contraindications to liver transplantation

1- Absolute contraindications

  • Brain death

  • Extrahepatic malignancy

  • Active uncontrolled infection

  • Active alcoholism and substance abuse

  • AIDS

  • Severe cardiopulmonary disease

  • Uncontrolled sepsis

  • Inability to comply with medical regimen

  • Lack of psychosocial support

  • Anatomic abnormalities precluding liver transplantation

  • Compensated cirrhosis without complications (Child-Turcotte-Pugh score, 5–6)

2- Relative contraindications

  • Advanced age

  • Cholangiocarcinomaa

  • HIV infectiona

  • Portal vein thrombosis

  • Psychologic instability

a Transplantation for cholangiocarcinoma is undergoing study using protocols with strict selection criteria and use of chemotherapy and radiation. Transplantation for HIV infection without AIDS also is undergoing study as part of a National Institutes of Health protocol


Related Criteria

Appropriate Indications for Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (UGE)

Diagnostic Criteria for Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome (ZES)

Diagnostic Criteria for Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH)

Diagnostic Criteria for Wilson's disease

Severity Criteria for Acute Pancreatitis




  1. Yu AS, Keeffe EB. Liver transplantation. In: Zakim D, Boyer TD, editors. Hepatology: a textbook of liver disease. 4th edition. Philadelphia: Elsevier; 2003. p. 1617–56.

  2. Ahmed A, Keeffe EB. Current indications and contraindications for liver transplantation. Clin Liver Dis. 2007 May;11(2):227-47. [Medline]

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Created: Nov 01, 2008
Last Modified: 10/17/2010

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