General anesthesia and hepatic circulation

Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1987 Aug;65(8):1762-79. doi: 10.1139/y87-276.


This article describes hepatic circulatory disturbances associated with anesthesia and surgical intervention. The material is presented in three parts: part 1 describes the effects of general anesthetics on the hepatic circulation; part 2 deals with different factors related to surgical procedures and anesthesia; and part 3 analyzes the role of hepatic circulatory disturbances and hepatic oxygen deprivation in anesthesia-induced hepatotoxicity. The analysis of available data suggests that general anesthesia affects the splanchnic and hepatic circulation in various directions and to different degrees. The majority of anesthetics decreases portal blood flow in association with a decrease in cardiac output. However, hepatic arterial blood flow can be preserved, decreased, or increased. The increase in hepatic arterial blood flow, when it occurs, is usually not enough to compensate for a decrease in portal blood flow and therefore total hepatic blood flow is usually decreased during anesthesia. This decrease in total hepatic blood flow has certain pharmacokinetic implications, namely a decrease in clearance of endogenous and exogenous substances with a high hepatic extraction ratio. On the other hand, a reduction in the hepatic oxygen supply might play a certain role in liver dysfunction occurring perioperatively. Surgical procedures-preparations combined with anesthesia have a very complex effect on the splanchnic and hepatic circulation. Within this complex, the surgical procedure-preparation plays the main role in developing circulatory disturbances, while anesthesia plays only a modifying role. Hepatic oxygen deprivation may play an important role in anesthesia-induced hepatotoxicity in different experimental models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, General*
  • Anesthetics / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Liver Circulation* / drug effects


  • Anesthetics