Preoperative optimization of patients with liver disease

Andre M. De Wolf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: Recent papers relevant to the preoperative evaluation and optimization of patients with severe liver disease will be discussed. The emphasis will be placed on cardiovascular, pulmonary, and renal complications. Other aspects such as preoperative management of hepatitis B and C, other infectious issues, and liver cancer will not be discussed because this rarely involves the anesthesiologist. Recent findings: Dobutamine stress echocardiography has been the cornerstone of cardiac evaluation of liver transplant candidates. Combining liver transplantation with cardiac procedures has been shown to be feasible. While mild hepatopulmonary syndrome is well-tolerated, severe hepatopulmonary syndrome carries a fairly high mortality rate. New treatment modalities of severe portopulmonary hypertension have been introduced, and may have advantages over epoprostenol administration. Hepatic hydrothorax requires similar therapy to ascites [repeated thoracentesis or paracentesis, and transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS)], but refractory hydrothorax may require other interveptions. Hepatorenal syndrome may improve by increasing renal blood flow through the use of vasoconstrictors (vasopressin, norepinephrine) in combination with albumin administration. Interventional radiologists can now change the flow through an established TIPS. Hepatic encephalopathy may result in some irreversible changes in the brain. It remains difficult to predict whether a patient with acute fulminant failure will recover-spontaneously. Support devices that include hepatocytes show early promising results. The coagulation changes in living donors are incompletely understood. Finally, autonomic neuropathy as a complication of severe liver disease results in more hemodynamic instability. Summary: Recent advances in preoperative evaluation and optimization are presented and discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-331
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent opinion in anaesthesiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Liver transplantation
  • Preoperative evaluation
  • Preoperative optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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