Complications Associated With Anesthesia Services in Endoscopic Procedures Among Patients With Cirrhosis

Hepatology. 2020 Dec;72(6):2109-2118. doi: 10.1002/hep.31224.


Background and aims: Anesthesia services for endoscopic procedures have proliferated with the promise of increased comfort and safety. Cirrhosis patients are higher risk for sedation, yet limited data are available describing anesthesia complications in this population.

Approach and results: This cross-sectional study utilized the National Anesthesia Clinical Outcomes Registry, a multicenter quality-improvement database from 2010 to 2015. Patients with cirrhosis undergoing an endoscopy were identified by International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9)/Current Procedures Terminology (CPT) codes. The outcome of interest was serious anesthesia-related complication defined as cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological, drug related, patient injury, death, or unexpected admission. A mixed-effects multivariate logistic regression model determined odds ratios (ORs) between variables and serious complications, adjusting for potential confounders. In total, 9,007 endoscopic procedures were performed among patients with cirrhosis; 92% were esophagogastroduodenoscopies. The majority (81%) were American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class ≥3, and 72% had a history of hepatic encephalopathy, ascites, varices, hepatorenal syndrome, or spontaneous bacterial peritonitis identified by ICD-9/CPT codes. In total, 87 complications were reported, 33 of which were serious. Frequency of serious complications was 0.4% or 378.6 per 100,000 procedures (95% confidence interval [CI], 260.8, 531.3). The majority of serious complications were cardiovascular (21 of 33), including 15 cardiac arrests. Serious complications were significantly associated with ASA 4/5 (OR, 3.84; 95% CI, 1.09, 13.57) and general anesthesia (OR, 4.71; 95% CI, 1.20, 18.50), adjusting for age, sex, ASA class, anesthesia type, inpatient status, portal hypertension history, and variable complication reporting practices.

Conclusions: Anesthesia complications among endoscopic procedures in cirrhosis are rare overall. Serious complications were predominantly cardiac and associated with sicker patients undergoing general anesthesia. The complexity of end-stage liver disease may warrant more intensive care during endoscopic procedures, including anesthesia monitoring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anesthesia / adverse effects*
  • Anesthesia / methods
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • End Stage Liver Disease / complications*
  • End Stage Liver Disease / diagnosis
  • Endoscopy / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain, Procedural / etiology
  • Pain, Procedural / prevention & control*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Prevalence
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult