Coagulopathy of Liver Disease

Curr Treat Options Gastroenterol. 2000 Dec;3(6):433-438. doi: 10.1007/s11938-000-0030-y.


Coagulopathy in patients with liver disease results from impairments in the clotting and fibrinolytic systems, as well as from reduced number and function of platelets. Parenteral vitamin K replacement corrects coagulopathy related to biliary obstruction, bacterial overgrowth, or malnutrition. Vitamin K is less effective for coagulopathy caused by severe parenchymal liver injury. Transfusion of fresh frozen plasma is the hallmark of treatment of significant coagulopathy in patients with liver disease and active bleeding. Transfusion of fresh frozen plasma also reverses moderate to severe coagulopathy of cirrhosis prior to invasive procedures. Cryoprecipitate is useful for severe coagulopathy with hypofibrinogenemia, especially when avoidance of volume overload is desired. Exchange plasmapheresis is useful in selected patients with coagulopathy due to liver disease, in whom fresh frozen plasma fails to correct coagulopathy or in patients who have coexistent severe fluid overload. Platelet transfusions, pooled or single donor, are useful in thrombocytopenic patients prior to performing invasive procedures or in the presence of significant bleeding, especially when the platelet count is below 50,000/mL. The use of recombinant factor VIIa and thrombopoietin therapy for correction of coagulopathy and thrombocytopenia, respectively, in patients with cirrhosis, is currently under investigation. Therapy with prothrombin complex concentrates, 1-deamino-8-d-arginine vasopressin and antithrombin III concentrates for the management of coagulopathy caused by liver disease can be hazardous and the use of these products is considered investigational at the present time.