Advanced heart failure is a chronic, systemic disease, which affects other organs in ways that are incompletely understood. Patients with advanced heart failure commonly develop congestive hepatopathy, which may lead to progressive hepatic injury and fibrosis. Because the independent adverse effects of hepatic dysfunction on early and late outcomes after continuous flow left ventricular assist devices have also not been entirely demonstrated, we review its impact on this patient population.
Although early mortality is increased in patients with significantly elevated total bilirubin before implant, early improvement in hepatic function is consistently observed following left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation, and this early improvement remains stable during late follow-up. Furthermore, a growing experience with expanded application of LVAD therapy in special patient populations, such as those with restrictive cardiomyopathy or congenital heart disease, demonstrates improved outcomes with LVAD compared with continued medical therapy. Although these outcomes are encouraging in the context of hepatic dysfunction not being considered a precluding factor in isolation, careful patient selection and preoperative optimization should be employed to ensure acceptable risk and a durable outcome.
Significant preoperative hepatic dysfunction can increase early mortality in patients undergoing LVAD implant, but long-term outcomes in early survivors demonstrate improvement in measures of hepatic function, which is maintained during follow-up. Numerous perioperative considerations are imperative to optimize to ensure a durable outcome with LVAD in these patients.
aMayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
*Dr Simon Maltais and Dr John M. Stulak contributed equally to the writing of this article.
Correspondence to Simon Maltais, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55902, USA. Tel: +1 507 255 7064; fax: +1 507 255 7378; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org