Liver transplantation in cirrhotic patients is accompanied by severe bleeding. Indeed, the first 100 recipients of liver allografts transplanted by Thomas E. Starzl died mainly by uncontrolled bleeding. Since then, much progress has been made as to the understanding of the pathophysiology and the treatment of hemostatic disorders in cirrhotic patients. The aim of this review is to provide a state-of-the-art overview on recent developments and treatment options for hemostatic disorder in cirrhotic patients. Patients with end-stage-liver disease (ESLD) do not suffer only from procoagulant deficiency; there is also a lack of natural anticoagulants (i.e. proteins C and S) and profibrinolytics. Conventional laboratory methods such as the determination of the international normalized ratio or the activated partial thromboplastin time cannot predict bleeding complications in these patients. Progressive diagnostic techniques reveal that cirrhotic patients have the same capacity to produce thrombin like healthy volunteers. Moreover, cirrhotic patients--and particularly those with primary biliary cirrhosis or primary sclerosing cholangitis-- are at a higher risk for developing thrombosis as compared with healthy controls. Hemostatic alterations are common in cirrhotic patients; they involve both the pro- and the anticoagulant pathways. However, this is a very delicate balance, which may be shifted to either of these pathways by different treatments thereby causing bleeding or thrombosis, respectively.
Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.