Congenital heart disease and the liver

Sumeet K. Asrani, Nina S. Asrani, Deborah K. Freese, Sabrina D. Phillips, Carole A. Warnes, Julie Heimbach, Patrick S. Kamath

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


There are approximately 1 million adult patients with congenital heart disease (CHD) in the United States, and the number is increasing. Hepatic complications are common and may occur secondary to persistent chronic passive venous congestion or decreased cardiac output resulting from the underlying cardiac disease or as a result of palliative cardiac surgery; transfusion or drug-related hepatitis may also occur. The unique physiology of Fontan circulation is particularly prone to the development of hepatic complications and is, in part, related to the duration of the Fontan procedure. Liver biochemical test abnormalities may be related to cardiac failure, resulting from intrinsic liver disease, secondary to palliative interventions, or drug related. Complications of portal hypertension and, rarely, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) may also occur. Abnormalities such as hypervascular nodules are often observed; in the presence of cirrhosis, surveillance for HCC is necessary. Judicious perioperative support is required when cardiac surgery is performed in patients with advanced hepatic disease. Traditional models for liver disease staging may not fully capture the severity of disease in patients with CHD. The effectiveness or safety of isolated liver transplantation in patients with significant CHD is limited in adults; combined heart-liver transplantation may be required in those with decompensated liver disease or HCC, but experience is limited in the presence of significant CHD. The long-term sequelae of many reparative cardiac surgical procedures are not yet fully realized; understanding the unique and diverse hepatic associations and the role for early cardiac transplantation in this population is critical. Because this population continues to grow and age, consideration should be given to developing consensus guidelines for a multidisciplinary approach to optimize management of this vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1160-1169
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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