Post hepatectomy liver failure (PHLF) – Recent advances in prevention and clinical management
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEuropean Journal of Surgical Oncology. 2021, 47(2), 216-224 10.1016/j.ejso.2020.09.001
Background Posthepatectomy liver failure (PHLF) is a relatively rare but feared complication following liver surgery, and associated with high morbidity, mortality and cost implications. Significant advances have been made in detailed preoperative assessment, particularly of the liver function in an attempt to predict and mitigate this complication. Methods A detailed search of PubMed and Medline was performed using keywords “liver failure”, “liver insufficiency”, “liver resection”, “postoperative”, and “post-hepatectomy”. Only full texts published in English were considered. Particular emphasis was placed on literature published after 2015. A formal systematic review was not found feasible hence a pragmatic review was performed. Results The reported incidence of PHLF varies widely in reported literature due to a historical absence of a universal definition. Incorporation of the now accepted definition and grading of PHLF would suggest the incidence to be between 8 and 12%. Major risk factors include background liver disease, extent of resection and intraoperative course. The vast majority of mortality associated with PHLF is related to sepsis, organ failure and cerebral events. Despite multiple attempts, there has been little progress in the definitive and specific management of liver failure. This review article discusses recent advances made in detailed preoperative evaluation of liver function and evidence-based targeted approach to managing PHLF. Conclusion PHLF remains a major cause of mortality following liver resection. In absence of a specific remedy, the best approach is mitigating the risk of it happening by detailed assessment of liver function, patient selection and general care of a critically ill patient.