The changing face of patients presenting for liver transplantation

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Significant changes have been witnessed recently in patients presenting for liver transplantation. The growing number of liver transplantations performed, the increasingly successful outcomes, the expansion of indications, and the implementation of the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) system are driving forces for those changes. The purpose of this review is to examine those changes and their effect in perioperative management.

Recent findings

Patients who present for liver transplantation today have higher MELD scores and more advanced liver disease. Studies show that high MELD score patients are associated with high perioperative risks and undergo a more difficult perioperative course than patients with low MELD score. More specifically, they have more preoperative comorbidities, more baseline laboratory abnormalities, and higher requirements for intraoperative transfusion and vasopressors. Progress has been also made in management in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, fulminant hepatic failure, and coronary artery disease prior to liver transplantation.

Summary

Patients who present for liver transplantation today are more acutely ill compared with a few years ago and have more comorbidities, higher perioperative risks, and a more difficult perioperative course. Further characterization of the changes and associated perioperative risks and strategies to manage those risks are needed.

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