[Surgical approach to posthepatitic cirrhotic patient today].G Chir. 1996 Jun-Jul; 17(6-7):370-8.GC
A posthepatitic cirrhotic patient may undergo elective or urgent abdominal operation for an extra-hepatic or hepatic disease. According to the high postoperative morbidity (61%), surgery is indicated only for symptomatic or complicated cholelithiasis. A surgical procedure for refractory ascites has been devised to create a permanent peritoneo-venous shunt by a one way pressure-sensitive valve (Leveen). The procedure is simple and brings a long lasting relief with recovery in strength and nutrition and improved kidney function. Sclerotherapy is widely used to treat acute variceal bleeding while repeated sclerotherapy is used in the long-term management to eradicate varices. When indicated, liver transplantation is the best treatment to prevent variceal bleeding recurrence. Also portosystemic shunts effectively prevent recurrent variceal bleeding. They are, however, major operations with an important morbidity and mortality, particularly in poor risk patients. The most advocated shunts today are the Warren distal splenorenal shunt and the Sarfeh portacaval shunt using a small diameter prosthetic H-graft. The transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent-shunt (TIPSS) is a new treatment for portal hypertension and its complications. From a haemodynamic point of view it allows balanced hepatic perfusion. Postoperative mortality is rare; further bleeding and encephalopathy are reasonably acceptable. The most relevant complications concern dislocation of the prosthesis, stenosis and thrombosis of the shunt, which can be corrected by non-invasive dilatation. Encephalopathy is the main complication of surgical portosystemic shunts. It is usually controlled by protein diet restriction, and administration of lactulose or oral antibiotics. In severe forms the patients may be treated by an oesophageal transection with oesophagogastric devascularization, and by a postoperative suppression of the portosystemic shunt using external maneuvers. Posthepatitic liver cirrhosis is frequently complicated by the onset of an hepatocellular carcinoma. Early detection (aFP, DCP, Echography) and curative resection are the best ways to improve long term prognosis. Segmentectomy achieves a good balance between liver function preservation and radical exeresis for tumours less than 5 cm in diameter. Liver transplantation may be considered for the treatment of long-staging cirrhotic patients in whom hepatocarcinoma development has been recognized at an early presymptomatic stage. Hepatic arterial chemoembolization (gelfoam, lipiodol, mitomycin C or doxorubicin) may improve the survival of patients with unresectable malignant disease of the liver. A marked reduction in liver size may occur in the weeks following an effective chemoembolization with objective (CT scan) and subjective improvement (amelioration of specific symptoms). Liver chemoembolization is absolutely contraindicated in the presence of jaundice disordered liver function (Child C) or complete portal venous obstruction. In the last years, the number of patients treated by liver transplantation has greatly increased. Surgical technique, postoperative management, and immunosuppressive therapy account for the dramatic improvement of the results. However, indications for selection of patients and the timing for liver transplantation are still not well defined.