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A Journal on Surgery

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Minerva Chirurgica 2000 November;55(11):771-8

language: Italian

Surgery in the cirrhotic patient: prognosis and risk factors

Pisani Ceretti A., Cordovana A., Pinto A., Spina G. P.


Patients with cirrhosis have reduced life expectancy. Surgery is often associated with clinical decompensation in this group of patients. The purpose of this paper is to study the surgical risk in cirrhotic patients undergoing nonderivative operations. Unfortunately, most of the studies in the literature about this problem are retrospective reviews with limitations. The conditions increasing surgical risk in cirrhotic patients are analysed. These include changes in the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of various drugs, altered hemostasis, poor resistance to infections, water retention, suture-line insufficiency, chronic renal failure and congestive heart failure. Assessment of the disease stage in cirrhosis is very important, because the severity of hepatic abnormalities influences the prognosis. The Child-Pugh classification has been used extensively to risk-stratify patients with cirrhosis. However, the disregard for cardiorespiratory, renal, electrolyte balance and acid-base status limits its predictive accuracy. Recently a new scoring system, the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE III), has been introduced and seems to be superior to Child-Pugh for prognosticating short term survival of cirrhotic patients. In conclusion, surgery can be done safely only in cirrhotic patients with a good hepatic function. On the contrary, in patients with advanced cirrhosis, surgery causes a very high mortality. Finally, the patients with moderate hepatic failure can be operated only after a careful study of the disease and an adequate correction of the reversible risk factors.

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