Metabolic syndrome and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in liver surgery: The new scourges?

World J Hepatol. 2014 May 27;6(5):306-14. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v6.i5.306.


The aim of this topic highlight is to review relevant evidence regarding the influence of the metabolic syndrome (MS) and its associated liver manifestation, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), on the development of liver cancer as well as their impact on the results of major liver surgery. MS and NAFLD, whose incidences are significantly increasing in Western countries, are leading to a changing profile of the patients undergoing liver surgery. A MEDLINE search was performed for relevant articles using the key words "metabolic syndrome", "liver resection", "liver transplantation", "non alcoholic fatty liver disease", "non-alcoholic steatohepatitis" and "liver cancer". On one hand, the MS favors the development of primary liver malignancies (hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma) either through NAFLD liver parenchymal alterations (steatosis, steatohepatitis, fibrosis) or in the absence of significant underlying liver parenchyma changes. Also, the existence of NAFLD may have a specific impact on colorectal liver metastases recurrence. On the other hand, the postoperative period following partial liver resection and liver transplantation is at increased risk of both postoperative complications and mortality. These deleterious effects seem to be related to the existence of liver specific complications but also higher cardio-vascular sensitivity in a setting of MS/NAFLD. Finally, the long-term prognosis after curative surgery joins that of patients operated on with other types of underlying liver diseases. An increased rate of patients with MS/NAFLD referred to hepatobiliary units has to be expected. The higher operative risk observed in this subset of patients will require specific improvements in their perioperative management.

Keywords: Complications; Hepatocarcinoma; Liver surgery; Metabolic syndrome; Morbidity; Neoplasia; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

Publication types

  • Review