Initial poor graft function is associated with increased morbidity and graft loss after liver transplantation. Donor age is a risk factor for the development of initial poor function. The severity of ischemic damage on intraoperative postreperfusion (0Post) allograft biopsy specimens is predictive of subsequent initial poor function. This study was performed to assess whether donor age is a risk factor for the development of ischemic damage on 0Post biopsy specimens. The records of 94 liver transplantations were reviewed. 0Post biopsy specimens were obtained after complete allograft revascularization. The severity of ischemic damage was graded as follows: 0, none; 1, minimal; 2, mild; 3, moderate; and 4, severe. Grafts were defined as older when donor age was 50 years or older. Other independent variables examined included donor cause of death, length of hospital stay, acidosis, serum alanine aminotransferase level, graft cold ischemia time, and degree of steatosis. Older grafts were associated with higher grades of ischemic damage than younger grafts (2.3 ± 1.0 v 1.3 ± 1.1; P = .003). Univariate and multivariate analysis identified donor age of 50 years or older as the only significant predictive variable of the severity of ischemic damage. In 16 transplantations involving older grafts, there was no statistically significant association between the severity of ischemic damage and incidence of initial poor function and graft loss. The use of older liver grafts is associated with more extensive ischemic damage immediately after graft reperfusion. Whether this early lesion identifies among older graft recipients those at risk for a worst outcome remains to be determined.
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