Prospective evaluation of outcomes and predictors of mortality in patients with hepatopulmonary syndrome undergoing liver transplantation



The hepatopulmonary syndrome (HPS) occurs in a subgroup of patients with cirrhosis and results from intrapulmonary vasodilatation, which may cause significant hypoxemia. Liver transplantation has emerged as a therapeutic option for patients with HPS based on retrospective case series and reports. However, morbidity and mortality appear to be increased after transplantation for HPS, and no prospective studies evaluating clinical features that may predict poor surgical outcome are available. Therefore, we prospectively evaluated the utility of the degree of hypoxemia, the arterial oxygen response to 100% oxygen administration, and the macroaggregated albumin (MAA) scan quantification of intrapulmonary shunting as predictors for outcome after liver transplantation. Our cohort consisted of 24 patients with cirrhosis and HPS who underwent liver transplantation over a 5-year period at 2 transplant centers who were followed at least 1 year after transplantation. All patients underwent preoperative evaluation for HPS with standardized methods. Seven patients (29%) died postoperatively, 5 of cardiorespiratory complications. All deaths occurred within 10 weeks after transplantation. A preoperative arterial oxygen tension (PaO2) of ≤ 50 mm Hg alone or in combination with a MAA shunt fraction ≥ 20% were the strongest predictors of postoperative mortality. In conclusion, we found that mortality is increased after liver transplantation for HPS, particularly in patients with more severe hypoxemia and significant intrapulmonary shunting. Preoperative testing for the severity of HPS can be used to stratify patients according to the risk for postoperative mortality.