Background: Cirrhotic patients who present for elective and emergent surgery pose a formidable challenge for the surgeon because of the high reported morbidity and mortality. The Child-Turcotte-Pugh (CTP) score previously has been used to evaluate preoperative severity of liver dysfunction and to predict postoperative outcome. Recently, a more objective scoring classification, the model for end-stage liver disease (MELD), has been shown to predict accurately the 3-month mortality for cirrhotic patients awaiting transplantation. We sought to compare the CTP and MELD scores in predicting outcomes in cirrhotic patients undergoing surgical procedures requiring general anesthesia.
Methods: During the study period, 40 patients with a history of cirrhosis who required elective (E) or emergent (EM) surgical procedures under general anesthesia were reviewed (E = 24, EM = 16). The preoperative CTP and MELD scores were calculated and patient short- (30-day) and long-term (3-month) outcomes were recorded.
Results: There was a significant difference in the 1-month and 3-month mortality rates between the emergent and elective groups (EM group: 1 mo = 19%, 3 mo = 44%; E group: 1 mo = 17%, 3 mo = 21%, P <0.05). There was good correlation between the CP and MELD scores, which was greater in the emergent groups as compared with the elective group (EM: r = 0.81; E: r = 0.65).
Conclusions: Our study shows that cirrhotic patients who undergo surgery under general anesthesia have an extremely high 1- and 3-month mortality rate that progressively increases with severity of preoperative liver dysfunction. Additionally, the MELD score correlates well with the CTP score, providing a more objective predictor of postoperative mortality in cirrhotic patients undergoing surgery.