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Blood. 2010 Aug 12;116(6):878-85. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-02-261891. Epub 2010 Apr 16.

Rebalanced hemostasis in patients with liver disease: evidence and clinical consequences.

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Section Hepatobiliairy Surgery and Liver Transplantation, Department of Surgery, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, Groningen, The Netherlands.


Patients with liver disease frequently acquire a complex disorder of hemostasis secondary to their disease. Routine laboratory tests such as the prothrombin time and the platelet count are frequently abnormal and point to a hypocoagulable state. With more sophisticated laboratory tests it has been shown that patients with liver disease may be in hemostatic balance as a result of concomitant changes in both pro- and antihemostatic pathways. Clinically, this rebalanced hemostatic system is reflected by the large proportion of patients with liver disease who can undergo major surgery without any requirement for blood product transfusion. However, the hemostatic balance in the patient with liver disease is relatively unstable as evidenced by the occurrence of both bleeding and thrombotic complications in a significant proportion of patients. Although it is still common practice to prophylactically correct hemostatic abnormalities in patients with liver disease before invasive procedures by administration of blood products guided by the prothrombin time and platelet count, we believe that this policy is not evidence-based. In this article, we will provide arguments against the traditional concept that patients with liver failure have a hemostasis-related bleeding tendency. Consequences of these new insights for hemostatic management will be discussed.

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