Hepatic steatosis is a recognized risk factor for primary nonfunction of hepatic allografts, but the effect of steatosis on postoperative recovery after major liver resection is unknown. Our aim was to determine if hepatic steatosis is associated with increased perioperative morbidity and mortality in patients undergoing major resection. A retrospective review of medical records of 135 patients who had undergone major hepatic resection from 1990 to 1993 was performed. Histopathology of the hepatic parenchyma at the resection margin was reviewed for the presence of macro- or microvesicular steatosis. The extent of steatosis was graded as none (group 1), mild with less than 30% hepatocytes involved (group 2), or moderate-to-severe with 30% or more hepatocytes involved (group 3). Outcome of patients was correlated with extent of steatosis. Patients with moderate-to-severe steatosis were obese (body mass index = 25.8 ± 0.5 vs. 26.5 ± 1.0 vs. 33.4 ± 2.9; P <0.05 groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively) and had an increased serum bilirubin concentration preoperatively. Hepatectomy required a longer operative time for group 3 (290 ± 9 minutes vs. 287 ± 13 minutes vs. 355 ± 24 minutes; P <0.05 groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively). Likelihood of blood transfusion was 51% in group 1, 52% in group 2, and 71% in group 3. Mortality was 14% in group 3 vs. 3% in group 1, and 7% in group 2; and liver failure occurred in 14% of patients in group 3 compared to 4% and 9% in groups 1 and 2, respectively. Patients in group 3 also had increased postoperative bilirubin levels compared to preoperative values. Moderate-to-severe hepatic steatosis may be associated with increased perioperative morbidity and mortality, and preoperative identification of steatosis warrants caution prior to major resection.
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