Current protective strategies in liver surgery

World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Dec 28;16(48):6098-103. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i48.6098.


During liver resection surgery for cancer or liver transplantation, the liver is subject to ischaemia (reduction in blood flow) followed by reperfusion (restoration of blood flow), which results in liver injury [ischemia-reperfusion (IR) or IR injury]. Modulation of IR injury can be achieved in various ways. These include hypothermia, ischaemic preconditioning (IPC) (brief cycles of ischaemia followed by reperfusion of the organ before the prolonged period of ischaemia i.e. a conditioning response), ischaemic postconditioning (conditioning after the prolonged period of ischaemia but before the reperfusion), pharmacological agents to decrease IR injury, genetic modulation of IR injury, and machine perfusion (pulsatile perfusion). Hypothermia decreases the metabolic functions and the oxygen consumption of organs. Static cold storage in University of Wisconsin solution reduces IR injury and has prolonged organ storage and improved the function of transplanted grafts. There is currently no evidence for any clinical advantage in the use of alternate solutions for static cold storage. Although experimental data from animal models suggest that IPC, ischaemic postconditioning, various pharmacological agents, gene therapy, and machine perfusion decrease IR injury, none of these interventions can be recommended in clinical practice. This is because of the lack of randomized controlled trials assessing the safety and efficacy of ischaemic postconditioning, gene therapy, and machine perfusion. Randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials assessing the safety and efficacy of IPC and various pharmacological agents have demonstrated biochemical or histological improvements but this has not translated to clinical benefit. Further well designed randomized controlled trials are necessary to assess the various new protective strategies in liver resection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Preconditioning / adverse effects
  • Ischemic Preconditioning / methods*
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver / surgery*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reperfusion Injury / pathology*
  • Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control