Severe ischemic early liver injury after cardiac surgery

Jai S. Raman, Kazuhiro Kochi, Hiroshi Morimatsu, Brian Buxton, Rinaldo Bellomo

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52 Citations (Scopus)


Background. The epidemiology, pathogenesis and prognosis of severe ischemic early liver injury (SIELI) after cardiac surgery are poorly understood. Accordingly, we studied patients whose alanine transaminase (ALT) concentration acutely increased above 500 IU/1 in the immediate postoperative period and compared these patients to two control groups matched for preoperative and immediate postoperative characteristics. Methods. We used a prospective database of 1,800 consecutive cardiac surgical cases to identify the study groups. Group I was made up of 20 patients with ALT levels above 500 IU/L in the acute postoperative stage (SIELI). Preoperative liver tests were normal in all these patients. Group II was obtained by identifying 20 control cases whose age, type of surgery, NYHA classification, and Parsonnet score matched Group I (preoperative controls). Group III was obtained by identifying 20 patients who developed postoperative acute renal failure and shock (ARF/shock; postoperative controls) but no enzyme evidence of hepatic injury. Results. Acute renal failure, a low cardiac index (CI) state, and mortality were more common in SIELI and ARF/Shock patients compared with preoperative controls (all p values less than 0.01). Peak postoperative pulmonary artery occlusion (PAOP) and central venous (CVP) pressures were also higher in SIELI and ARF/Shock patients than controls (all p values less than 0.02). A higher dose of norepinephrine and milrinone were required to maintain blood pressure and cardiac output in SIELI and ARF/shock patients than preoperative controls (all p values less than 0.005). SIELI patients, however, differed from ARF/Shock patients in that they had a higher preoperative NYHA class and a greater incidence of hypertension and diabetes. Stepwise linear regression analysis identified a postoperative low CI and the presence of diabetes as the only predictors of peak ALT value (p less than 0.05). Multivariate logistic regression analysis identified female gender as being associated with a higher likelihood of SIELI (odds ratio: 6.13; 95% CI 1.08 to 34.82) Conclusions. SIELI after cardiac surgery carries a high mortality and is strongly associated with a low cardiac output and increased filling pressures, suggesting that liver ischemia induced by a combination of decreased perfusion and congestion is fundamental to its pathogenesis. A history of cardiac failure, diabetes, hypertension, and female gender may represent risk factors for its development and severity in the setting of a postoperative low cardiac output state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1601-1606
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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