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Possible causes of central pontine myelinolysis after liver transplantation.

AIM: To sum up the clinical characteristics of patients with central pontine myelinolysis (CPM) after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) and to document the possible causes of CPM.

METHODS: Data of 142 patients undergoing OLT between January 1999 to May 2003 were analyzed retrospectively. Following risk factors during perioperation were analyzed in patients with and without CPM: primary liver disease, preoperative serum sodium level, magnesium level and plasma osmolality, fluctuation degree of serum sodium concentration, and immunosuppressive drug level, etc.

RESULTS: A total of 13 (9.2%) neurologic symptoms appeared in 142 patients post-operation including 5 cases (3.5%) with CPM and 8 cases (5.6%) with cerebral hemorrhage or infarct. Two patients developing CPM after OLT had a hyponatremia history before operation (serum sodium<130 mmol/L), their mean serum sodium level was 130.6 +/- 5.54 mmol/L. The serum sodium level was significantly lower in CPM patients than in patients without neurologic complications or with cerebral hemorrhage/infarct (P<0.05). The increase in serum sodiumduring perioperative 48 h after OLT in patients with CPM was significantly greater than that in patients with cerebral hemorrhage/infarct but without neurologic complications (19.5 +/- 6.54 mmol/L, 10.1 +/- 6.43 mmol/L, 4.5 +/- 4.34 mmol/L, respectively, P<0.05). Plasma osmolality was greatly increased postoperation in patients with CPM. Hypomagnesemia was noted in all patients perioperation, but there were no significant differences between groups. The duration of operation on patients with CPM was longer than that on others (492 +/- 190.05 min, P<0.05). Cyclosporin A (CsA) levels were normal in all patients, but there were significant differences between patients with or without neurologic complications (P<0.05).

CONCLUSION: CPM may be more prevalent following liver transplantation. Although the diagnosis of CPM after OLT can be made by overall neurologic evaluations including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head, the mortality is still very high. The occurance of CPM may be associated with such factors as hyponatremia, rapid rise of serum sodium concentration, plasma osmolality increase postoperation, the duration of operation, and high CsA levels.

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