- 1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Electronic address: Therese.Bittermann@pennmedicine.upenn.edu.
- 2Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
Background / aims: Studies have suggested marked increases in transplant delisting due to clinical improvement for patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) associated cirrhosis in the era of direct acting antivirals (DAAs). This study provides a 'real world' assessment of waitlist dynamics for HCV transplant candidates in the current era.
Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of adults waitlisted for liver transplant (LT) alone between 1/1/2005-12/31/2018 using national US data. The post-DAA era included all listings occurring after 1/1/2013. Temporal trends in waitlisting, patient characteristics and outcomes with decompensated cirrhosis were evaluated. Adjusted competing risks models assessed the interaction of DAA-era and HCV history on (i) waitlist mortality, and (ii) delisting due to clinical improvement.
Results: Overall listing rates for HCV patients have decreased in the DAA era and particularly with Model for End-stage Liver Disease score ≥15 and ≥30. Rates of refractory ascites and severe encephalopathy at listing have increased. Delisting due to clinical improvement remains low (6.1% for 2013-2017 versus 5.2% for 2009-2012 versus 4% for 2005-2008; p<0.001) and, for many, ascites (46.5%) and encephalopathy (30.5%) persist at delisting. Waitlist recovery is more frequent for HCV patients post-DAA (adjusted SHR 1.78 vs pre-DAA, 95% CI: 1.58-2.02; p<0.001), while improvements in waitlist mortality by era are similar to non-HCV candidates (adjusted SHR 0.74 [95% CI: 0.7-0.78; p<0.001] and 0.77 [95% CI: 0.74-0.8; p<0.001], respectively).
Conclusion: Listing rates for decompensated HCV cirrhosis have decreased in the DAA era. Delisting of HCV patients for clinical improvement has increased, but remains infrequent and many continue to experience considerable morbidity.