Several studies have investigated short-term effects of liver transplantation on cognitive function and health-related quality of life. However, there have been no studies which examine long-term effects.
In this study, a research team from Leeds, England examined 36 patients who had received a single liver transplant at St James's University Hospital prior to 1991.
The team assessed patients' cognitive function using the Mini-Mental State Examination, the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test, trail-making tests, the Stroop test, and the Benton Visual Retention Test.
They also evaluated anxiety and depression using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
In addition, patients' health-related quality of life was assessed using the EuroQol.
| Patients scored lower than controls across a wide range of cognitive functions.|
Of the 36 patients, the team included 12 in the study. Patients were compared to 25 healthy controls.
The researchers found that, compared to the controls, patients scored significantly lower on measures of health-related quality of life. However, the team detected no differences in levels of anxiety or depression.
They also found that patients scored significantly lower than controls across a wide range of cognitive functions.
Drs Mark Lewis and Peter Howdle concluded, "Patients who survive for more than 10 years after liver transplantation have significant cognitive dysfunction and poor health-related quality of life".
"Whether these patients never return to normal after transplantation or whether they experience an increased rate of decline in cognitive function and health-related quality of life is uncertain".
In a related editorial in the same publication, Dr Kathleen Moore from Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, also discusses quality of life following liver transplantation.
Dr Moore concludes, that much more research is required in order "To ascertain the long-term impact of liver transplantation on recipients' cognitive functioning".