A long-term study of changes in the volume of brain ventricles and white matter lesions after successful liver transplantation

Rita García Martínez, Alex Rovira, Juli Alonso, F. Xavier Aymerich, Elena Huerga, Carlos Jacas, MacArena Simón-Talero, Víctor Vargas, Juan Cordoba

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Background: A prolonged survival in liver transplant recipients due to a better management exposes them to multiple factors that can impair neurologic function in the long term. Methods: Twenty-two patients were studied by brain magnetic resonance and completed a neuropsychologic assessment shortly before liver transplant, 6 to 12 months after (short term), and 6 to 9 years (long term) after liver transplant. Thirteen healthy controls matched by age were studied in parallel. Results: An enlargement in the ventricular size (an indirect measure of brain volume) was observed in the short term (+8%) and in the long term after liver transplant (+22%); the size of ventricles was larger than in healthy controls. In addition, a progression in the volume of focal T2 white matter lesions (an index of small vessel cerebrovascular disease) was detected in the long term (+49%) and was related to vascular risk factors in those with larger increases (>12.5% per year). Neuropsychologic function showed a significant improvement after liver transplant and remained stable in the long term, except for memory loss in those patients with larger increases in white matter lesions. Conclusions: Improvement in neuropsychologic function after successful liver transplant can be demonstrated up to 9 years. However, these patients experience a progressive accumulation of focal T2 brain lesions and show a smaller brain volume than controls, which can be related to their previous cirrhosis. A good management to minimize brain injury before transplantation and an accurate treatment of vascular risk factors may be important to prevent consequences on cognitive function. Copyright © 2010 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-594
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010


  • Brain size
  • Cognitive function
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Human
  • Liver transplantation
  • Magnetic resonance imaging


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