Objective: To examine modifications of acid-base balance of cirrhotic patients undergoing hepatectomy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Summary background data: Acid-base disorders are frequently observed in cirrhotics; however, modifications during hepatectomy and their impact on prognosis have never been investigated.
Methods: Two hundred and two hepatectomies for HCC on cirrhosis were reviewed. Arterial blood samples were collected immediately before and at the end of resection. Preresection and postresection acid-base parameters were compared and related to patient characteristics and postoperative course. The accuracy of acid-base parameters in predicting postoperative liver failure, defined as an impairment of liver function after surgery that led to patient death or required transplantation, was assessed using receiver operating characteristic analysis (ROC).
Results: All patients showed a significant reduction in pH, bicarbonate, and base excess at the end of hepatectomy (P < 0.001 in all cases), worsened by intraoperative blood loss (P < 0.010) and preoperative Model for end-stage liver disease score > or =11 (P < 0.010). ROC curve analysis identifies patients with postresection bicarbonate <19.4 mmol/L at high risk for liver failure (50.0%) whereas levels >22.1 mmol/L did not lead to the event (0%; P < 0.001). Postoperative prolongation of prothrombin time and increases in bilirubin, creatinine, and morbidity were also more frequent in patients with lower postresection bicarbonate, resulting in a longer in-hospital stay.
Conclusion: In cirrhotic patients, a trend toward a relative acidosis can be expected during surgery and is worsened by the severity of the underlying liver disease and intraoperative blood loss. Postresection bicarbonate level lower than 19.4 mmol/L is an adverse prognostic factor.