Guidance document: Risk assessment of patients with cirrhosis prior to elective non-hepatic surgery

Nadir Abbas, Jonathan A Fallowfield, David Patch, Adrian J Stanley, Raj Mookerjee, Emmanuel Tsochatzis, Joanna Leithead, Peter Clive Hayes, Abhishek Chauhan, Vikram Sharma, Neil Rajoriya, Simon Bach, Thomas Faulkner, Dhiraj Tripathi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

As a result of the increasing incidence of cirrhosis in the UK, more patients with chronic liver disease are being considered for elective non-hepatic surgery. A historical reluctance to offer surgery to such patients stems from general perceptions of poor postoperative outcomes. While this is true for those with decompensated cirrhosis, selected patients with compensated early-stage cirrhosis can have good outcomes after careful risk assessment. Well recognised risks include those of general anaesthesia, bleeding, infections, impaired wound healing, acute kidney injury and cardiovascular compromise. Intra-abdominal or cardiothoracic surgery are particularly high-risk interventions. Clinical assessment supplemented by blood tests, imaging, liver stiffness measurement, endoscopy and assessment of portal pressure (derived from the hepatic venous pressure gradient) can facilitate risk stratification. Traditional prognostic scoring systems including the Child-Turcotte-Pugh (CTP) and Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) are helpful but may overestimate surgical risk. Specific prognostic scores like Mayo Risk Score, VOCAL-Penn and ADOLP-LC can add precision to risk assessment. Measures to mitigate risk include careful management of varices, nutritional optimisation, and where possible addressing any ongoing aetiological drivers such as alcohol consumption. The role of portal decompression such as TIPSS can be considered in selected high-risk patients, but further prospective study of this approach is required. It is of paramount importance that patients are discussed in a multidisciplinary forum, and that patients are carefully counselled about potential risks and benefits.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontline Gastroenterology
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2023


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