Role of Baseline Echocardiography in the Preoperative Management of Liver Transplant Candidates

Published:September 27, 2012DOI:
      Liver transplantation (LT) has not traditionally been offered to patients with intracardiac shunts (ICSs) or pulmonary hypertension (PH). There is a paucity of data regarding cardiac structural characteristics in LT candidates. We examined echocardiographic characteristics and their role in managing LT candidates diagnosed with ICS and PH. We identified 502 consecutive patients (318 men, mean age 55 ± 11 years) who underwent LT and had preoperative echocardiogram. Demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, and echocardiographic variables were recorded and data were analyzed for end-stage liver disease diagnosis. ICSs were diagnosed with contrast echocardiography and PH was defined as estimated pulmonary artery systolic pressure >40 mm Hg. Primary end points included short-term (30-day) and long-term (mean 41-month) mortalities and the correlation between pre- and perioperative stroke. In our studied population >50% had >2 cardiovascular risk factors and with increasing frequency ICSs were diagnosed in 16%, PH in 25%, and intrapulmonary shunts in 41% of LT candidates. There was no correlation between short- and long-term mortality and ICS (p = 0.71 and 0.76, respectively) or PH (p = 0.79 and 0.71). Importantly, in those with ICS, no strokes occurred. In conclusion, structural differences exist between various end-stage liver disease diagnoses. ICSs diagnosed by echocardiography are not associated with an increased risk of perioperative stroke or increased mortality. A diagnosis of mild or moderate PH on baseline echocardiogram is not associated with worse outcomes and requires further assessment. Based on these findings, patients should not be excluded from consideration for LT based solely on the presence of an ICS or PH.
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      • Role of Baseline Echocardiography in Preoperative Management of Liver Transplant Candidates
        American Journal of CardiologyVol. 111Issue 8
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          We read the recent report regarding the role of echocardiography in the preoperative evaluation for liver transplantation (LT).1 We would like to share some thoughts and concerns regarding the importance of the development of lung vascular disorders in the setting of liver disease or portal hypertension, in particular, the development of portopulmonary hypertension. Right heart catheterization (RHC) represents the reference standard for the diagnosis of portopulmonary hypertension.2 Despite the poor agreement between echocardiographic and RHC parameters,3 LT programs have successfully used the right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP) to identify patients needing RHC; however, the cutoff values of RVSP vary depending on in which center the patient is being evaluated for LT (e.g., Mayo Clinic, University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center).
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