Protection From Phototoxic Injury During Surgery and Endoscopy in Erythropoietic Protoporphyria

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Erythropoietic protoporphyria is an inherited condition characterized by pronounced solar photosensitivity and in a minority of patients severe liver disease that necessitates liver transplantation for survival. Phototoxic injury to abdominal organs and skin has been reported in several cases of liver transplantation surgery, including a few transplants in which protective light filters were used. This study discusses the optimal characteristics of light filters used during liver transplantation surgery. An experimental model is used to evaluate the relative protection of different filters, and the results are compared with theoretical calculations regarding the risk for phototoxic injury from light sources in health-care procedures. Whether protective measures are warranted in other illuminated procedures besides liver transplantation has been discussed often but never studied. This study elucidates the risk for phototoxic injury in endoscopy, laparoscopy, and non–liver transplant surgery. A theoretical model and epidemiological data are considered. Our findings indicate that endoscopy, laparoscopy, and surgical procedures other than liver transplantation are safe in the noncholestatic protoporphyria patient and that general recommendations for using filters in these situations are not warranted. Among the tested filters, a flexible yellow filter omitting wavelengths below 470 nm is recommended for liver transplant surgery. This filter has been readily accepted by surgeons and offers a good balance between protection and altered visual color perception. The experimental model, using hemolysis of protoporphyrin-loaded erythrocytes as a measure of phototoxicity, has substantiated theoretical findings on relative filter protection.

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