High MELD score and extended operating time predict prolonged initial ICU stay after liver transplantation and influence the outcome


The aim of the present study is to determine the incidence of a prolonged (>3 days) initial ICU-stay after liver transplantation (LT) and to identify risk factors for it.

Patients and methods

We retrospectively analyzed data of adult recipients who underwent deceased donor first-LT at the University Hospital Essen between 11/2003 and 07/2012 and showed a primary graft function.


Of the 374 recipients, 225 (60.16%) had prolonged ICU-stay. On univariate analysis, donor INR, high doses of vasopressors, “rescue-offer” grafts, being hospitalized at transplant, high urgency cases, labMELD, alcoholic cirrhosis, being on renal dialysis and length of surgery were associated with prolonged ICU-stay. After multivariate analysis, only the labMELD and the operation’s length were independently correlated with prolonged ICU-stay. Cut-off values for these variables were 19 and 293.5 min, respectively. Hospital stay was longer for patients with a prolonged initial ICU-stay (p<0.001). Survival rates differed significantly between the two groups at 3 months, 1-year and 5-years after LT (p<0.001).


LabMELD and duration of LT were identified as independent predictors for prolonged ICU-stay after LT. Identification of recipients in need of longer ICU-stay could contribute to a more evidenced-based and cost-effective use of ICU facilities in transplant centers.