Is there value in volume? An assessment of liver transplant practices in the United States since the inception of MELD

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Background: Liver transplantation has increased in volume and provides substantial survival benefit. However, there remains a need for value-based assessment of this costly procedure. Methods: Model for end stage liver disease era adult recipients were identified using United Network for Organ Sharing Standard Transplant Analysis file data (n = 75,988) and compared across time periods (period A: February 2002 to January 2007; B: February 2007 to January 2013; C: February 2013 to January 2019). Liver centers were divided into volume tertiles for each period (small, medium, large). Value for the index transplant episode was defined as percentage graft survival ≥1 year divided by mean posttransplant duration of stay. Results: All centers increased value over time due to ubiquitous improvement in 1-year graft survival. However, large centers demonstrated the most significant value change (large +17% vs small +7.0%, P < .001) due to a –8.5% reduction in large centers duration of stay from period A to C, while small centers duration of stay remained unchanged (–0.1%). Large centers delivered higher value despite more complex care: older recipients (54.8 ± 10.3 vs 53.0 ± 11.4 years P < .001), fewer model for end stage liver disease exceptions (34.0% vs 38.2%, P < .001), higher rates of candidate portal vein thrombosis (10.1% vs 8.5%, P < .001) and prior abdominal surgery (43.4% vs 37.4%, P < .001), and more marginal donor utilization (donor risk index 1.45 ± 0.38 vs 1.36 ± 0.33, P < .001). Mahalanobis metric matching demonstrated that compared with small centers, large centers progressively shortened recipient duration of stay per transplant in each period (A: –0.36 days, P =. 437; B: –2.14 days, P < .001; C: –2.49 days, P < .001). Conclusion: There is value in liver transplant volume. Adoption of value-based practices from large centers may allow optimization of health care delivery for this costly procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1257-1262
Number of pages6
JournalSurgery (United States)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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