Advances in management and prognostication in critically ill cirrhotic patients

Constantine J Karvellas, Sean M Bagshaw
Current Opinion in Critical Care 2014, 20 (2): 210-7

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To provide an update on the recent publications for the management and prognostication of critically ill cirrhotic patients before and after liver transplant.

RECENT FINDINGS: The CLIF Acute-oN-ChrONicLIver Failure in Cirrhosis (CANONIC) study recently derived an evidence-based definition of acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF): hepatic decompensation; organ failure [predefined by the Chronic Liver Failure-Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (CLIF-SOFA)]; and high 28-day mortality rate. Although Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) appears to be more accurate in predicting ICU and hospital mortality in ACLF patients, CLIF-SOFA has been derived specifically for critically ill cirrhotic patients, including those not receiving mechanical ventilation. Recent data suggest that a lower transfusion target in esophageal variceal bleeding (<7 g/l) is safe. Newly defined 'cirrhosis-associated acute kidney injury (AKI)' correlates with mortality, organ failure and length of hospital stay. Although the SOFA score appears to perform better than liver-specific scoring systems [Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) and Child-Pugh scores], neither MELD nor SOFA appears to independently predict posttransplant survival; however, correlated with lengths of ICU and hospital stay. For patients declined for liver transplant, palliative care referral and appropriate goals of care are rarely achieved.

SUMMARY: New definitions for ACLF, cirrhosis-associated AKI and the CLIF-SOFA may improve the discrimination between survivors and nonsurvivors with ACLF. Predicting futility postliver transplant based on preliver transplant severity of illness still poses significant challenges.

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