Objective: The clinical significance of postoperative hyperbilirubinemia after heart transplantation has not been reported. Here, we sought to evaluate the incidence, risk factors, and prognosis of postoperative hyperbilirubinemia after heart transplantation. Methods: Between 1987 and 2005, 256 consecutive patients undergoing heart transplantation were studied prospectively. Postoperative hyperbilirubinemia was defined as occurrence of a serum total bilirubin concentration of more than 3 mg/dl in any measurement during the postoperative period. Logistic regression was done to identify possible risk factors for postoperative hyperbilirubinemia and hospital mortality. Results: Overall incidence of postoperative hyperbilirubinemia was 57%. Among all patients, there were 35 hospital deaths (14%). In patients with postoperative hyperbilirubinemia, the mean onset time was 2.4 ± 4.4 days after transplantation and the mean peak serum total bilirubin was 10.1 ± 10.4 mg/dl. Development of postoperative hyperbilirubinemia was associated with a higher mortality (21% vs 5%, P < 0.001 by Fisher's exact test). The onset time of postoperative hyperbilirubinemia, the peak serum total bilirubin level, and the time at which the peak bilirubin level was reached were associated with hospital mortality. Old donor age, valvular heart disease, high right atrial pressure, use of mechanical ventilation before transplant, and ascites at transplant were the significant risk factors for postoperative hyperbilirubinemia. Conclusions: Postoperative hyperbilirubinemia is common in patients undergoing heart transplantation and is associated with high hospital mortality. Patients with valvular heart disease, high preoperative right atrial pressure, and ascites at transplant, who then receive an old donor heart, are at greater risk for development of postoperative hyperbilirubinemia.
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