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A 60 year old woman has a right hemi-hepatectomy for invasive cholangio- carcinoma. She has been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for postoperative care.
List the problems she may develop in the first 48 hours.
The perioperative complications could be classified into (1) that of any major upper abdominal surgery and (2) specifically that of a hemi-hepatectomy for cholangiocarcinoma; or divided into various systems, i.e.
(1) Respiratory: Inadequate or excessive analgesia, pulmonary oedema from fluid overload, R. haemothorax, R. pneumothorax, R diaphragmatic dysfunction, V/Q mismatch from hepatic failure, aspiration and possibly early pulmonary infection or thromboembolism. Very rarely, intraoperative air embolism ®ARDS.
(2) Cardiovascular: Hypotension from bleeding, epidural block, perioperative myocardial ischaemia / infarction, Arrhythmias associated with electrolyte abnormalities.
(3) GI failure: Prolonged ileus, pseudo-obstruction, ascites, G I haemorrhage
(4) Renal: Hepatorenal syndrome, acute tubular necrosis, oliguria.
(5) Hepatic: Cholangitis, hepatic failure, encephalopathy, coagulopathy,
(6) CNS: Encephalopathy.
(7) Metabolic: hyperlactataemia, low Na+, high K+, hypoglycaemia.
(8) Premorbid condition possible ulcerative colitis/primary sclerosing cholangitis: Therefore, medication issues i.e. steroids, immune state, nutritional status etc.
This is a question which benefits from a systematic approach. The college answer has already made this attempt.
Thus: a table of Problems and Solutions:
|Airway issues||Extubate them in ICU (no difference in duration of ICU stay, regardless of where they are extubated)
(Neelakanta et al, 1997).
|Atelectasis||Use NIV (reintubation rates will be improved- Narita et al, 2010)|
|Bleeding||Use a low CVP strategy (2-5mmHg)
Intraoperatively, insist on occlusive manoeuvres (eg. Pringle manoeuvre)
|Analgesia||Remember the impaired clearance. Avoid benzodiazepines and long-acting opiates.
Epidural seems to increase fluid requirements: use PCA instead.
|Delirium||Hepatic encephalopathy may develop if the patient had abnormal liver function preoperatively. One is referred to the chapter on hepatic encephalopathy for details of its management (spoiler: a lot of lactulose is involved)|
|High lactate||Expect it. Unlikely to be related to real shock (more a reflection of poor residual liver function)
|Low phosphate||Expect it. Replace it. The phosphate is being absorbed by the regenerating liver.|
|Renal failure||In advanced cirrhosis, may represent hepatorenal syndrome.
In other situations, it may be pre-renal (i.e. due to inadequate fluid resuscitation) or due to intraoperative renal vascular or ureteric injury.
|Fluid overload||Use concentrated colloids to maintain intravascular volume (eg. 20% albumin).|
|Hypercatabolic state||Early enteral nutrition (not much benefit from TPN - Hotta et al, 2002)
Optimal pre-operative nutrition is important.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) should be mentioned, in spite of the fact that tey are probably pointless in this setting.
|Hypoglycaemia||Attentive BSL monitoring|
|Coagulopathy||Attentive coag monitoring; likely no need for correction unless there is active bleeding|
|Infection||Mainly in the setting of bile leaks, abdominal collections, VAP or line-related sepsis. In any case, broad-spectrum cover will be deployed, some combination of an extended-spectrum β-lactam and lactamase inhibitor, eg. Tazocin.|
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