Open Access Research article

Impact of acute kidney injury exposure period among liver transplantation patients

Roberto Camargo Narciso1, Leonardo Rolim Ferraz23, Sergio Mies2, Julio Cesar Martins Monte13, Oscar Fernando Pavão dos Santos13, Miguel Cendoroglo Neto134, Cassio José de Oliveira Rodrigues1, Marcelo Costa Batista134* and Marcelino Souza Durão Junior13

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Nephrology, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

2 Liver Unit – Hospital de Transplantes Euryclides de Jesus Zerbini, São Paulo, Brazil

3 Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, São Paulo, Brazil

4 Division of Nephrology – New England Medical Center, Tufts University, Medford, MA, 02155, USA

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BMC Nephrology 2013, 14:43  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-14-43

Published: 20 February 2013



Acute kidney injury is a common complication of liver transplantation. In this single-centre retrospective observational study, we investigated the impact of acute kidney disease on liver recipient survival.


The study population consisted of patients who underwent a liver engraftment between January 2002 and November 2006, at a single transplantation centre in São Paulo, Brazil. Acute kidney injury diagnosis and staging were according to the recommendations of the Acute Kidney Injury Network and consisted of scanning the daily serum creatinine levels throughout the hospital stay. Patients requiring renal replacement therapy prior to transplantation, those who developed acute kidney injury before the procedure or those receiving their second liver graft were excluded from the study.


A total of 444 liver transplantations were performed during the study period, and 129 procedures (29%) were excluded. The remaining 315 patients constituted the study population. In 207 procedures, the recipient was male (65%). The mean age of the population was 51 years. Cumulative incidence of acute kidney injury within 48 h, during the first week after transplantation, and throughout the hospital stay was 32, 81 and 93%, respectively. Renal replacement therapy was required within a week after the transplantation in 31 procedures (10%), and another 17 (5%) required replacement therapy after that period. Mean follow-up period was 2.3 years. Time in days from acute kidney injury diagnosis to initiation of replacement therapy or reaching serum creatinine peak was associated with lower overall survival even when adjusted for significant potential confounders (HR 1.03; 95% CI 1.01, 1.05; p=0.002). Overall, patients experiencing acute kidney injury lasting for a week or more before initiation of replacement therapy experienced a threefold increase in risk of death (HR 3.02; 95% CI 2.04, 4.46; p<0.001).


Acute kidney injury after liver transplantation is remarkably frequent and has a substantial impact on patient survival. Delaying the initiation of renal replacement therapy in such population may increase mortality by more than 20% per day.