UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Acute care and emergency general surgery in patients with chronic liver disease: how can we optimize perioperative care? A review of the literature Bleszynski, Michael S; Bressan, Alexsander K; Joos, Emilie; Morad Hameed, S.; Ball, Chad G


The increasing prevalence of advanced cirrhosis among operative candidates poses a major challenge for the acute care surgeon. The severity of hepatic dysfunction, degree of portal hypertension, emergency of surgery, and severity of patients’ comorbidities constitute predictors of postoperative mortality. Comprehensive history taking, physical examination, and thorough review of laboratory and imaging examinations typically elucidate clinical evidence of hepatic dysfunction, portal hypertension, and/or their complications. Utilization of specific scoring systems (Child-Pugh and MELD) adds objectivity to stratifying the severity of hepatic dysfunction. Hypovolemia and coagulopathy often represent major preoperative concerns. Resuscitation mandates judicious use of intravenous fluids and blood products. As a general rule, the most expeditious and least invasive operative procedure should be planned. Laparoscopic approaches, advanced energy devices, mechanical staplers, and topical hemostatics should be considered whenever applicable to improve safety. Precise operative technique must acknowledge common distortions in hepatic anatomy, as well as the risk of massive hemorrhage from porto-systemic collaterals. Preventive measures, as well as both clinical and laboratory vigilance, for postoperative hepatic and renal decompensation are essential.

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