There is growing evidence that liver transplantation (LT) is the most effective treatment for acute-on-chronic liver failure grade-3 (ACLF-3). This study examines whether and how this evidence translates into practice by analyzing the variability in intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, listing strategies, and LT activity for patients with ACLF-3 across transplantation centers in Europe. Consecutive patients who were admitted to the ICU with ACLF-3, whether or not they were listed and/or transplanted with ACLF-3, between 2018 and 2019 were included across 20 transplantation centers. A total of 351 patients with ACLF-3 were included: 33 had been listed prior to developing ACLF-3 and 318 had not been listed at the time of admission to the ICU. There was no correlation between the number of unlisted patients with ACLF-3 admitted to the ICU and the number listed or transplanted while in ACLF-3 across centers. By contrast, there was a correlation between the number of patients listed and the number transplanted while in ACLF-3. About 21% of patients who were listed while in ACLF-3 died on the waiting list or were delisted. The percentage of LT for patients with ACLF-3 varied from 0% to 29% for those transplanted with decompensated cirrhosis across centers (average = 8%), with an I2 index of 68% (95% confidence interval, 49%–80%), showing substantial heterogeneity among centers. The 1-year survival for all patients with ACLF-3 was significantly higher in centers that listed and transplanted more patients with ACLF-3 (>10 patients) than in centers that listed and transplanted fewer: 36% versus 20%, respectively (p = 0.012). Patients with ACLF-3 face inequity of access to LT across Europe. Waitlisting strategies for patients with ACLF-3 influence their access to LT and, ultimately, their survival.
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© 2022 American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.