Purpose of review
An increasing number of patients requiring surgery are presenting with chronic or end stage liver disease. The management of these patients demands anesthesiologists with in-depth knowledge of the consequences of hepatic dysfunction, the effects on other organs, the risk of surgery, and the impact of anesthesia.
Chronic or end stage liver disease is associated with an increased risk of perioperative morbidity and mortality. It is essential to preoperatively assess possible hepatic encephalopathy, pleural effusions, hepatopulmonary syndrome, hepatopulmonary hypertension, hepatorenal syndrome, cirrhotic cardiomyopathy, and coagulation disorders. The application of two scoring systems, that is, Child-Turcotte-Pugh and model for end stage liver disease, helps to estimate the risk of surgery. The use of propofol is superior to benzodiazepines as intravenous narcotics. Although enflurane and halothane are discouraged for maintenance of anesthesia, all modern volatile anesthetics appear comparable with respect to outcome. Fentanyl, sufentanil, and remifentanil as opioids and cis-atracurium for relaxation may be the best choices in liver insufficency. Regional anesthesia is valuable for postoperative pain management.
Current studies have employed different anesthetic approaches in the preoperative and intraoperative management in order to improve outcomes of patients with liver disease.