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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e52678. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052678. Epub 2012 Dec 28.

The roles of albumin levels in head and neck cancer patients with liver cirrhosis undergoing tumor ablation and microsurgical free tissue transfer.

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Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Tao-Yuan, Taiwan.



To evaluate the changes of serum albumin levels during the peri-operative period, and correlate these changes to surgical outcomes, postoperative morbidity and mortality in head and neck cancer patients with cirrhosis.


57 patients with liver cirrhosis out of 3,022 patients who underwent immediate free flap reconstruction after surgical ablation of head and neck cancer performed over a 9-year period were included in the study. Two sets of groups were arranged based on the preoperative albumin (>3.5 g/dL vs. ≤ 3.5 g/dL) and POD1 albumin (>2.7 g/dL vs. ≤ 2.7 g/dL) levels and were compared with respect to patient-related variables, surgical outcomes, medical and surgical complications, and mortalities.


All patients had significant decreases in albumin levels postoperatively. Hypoalbuminemia, both preoperative and postoperative, was associated with the model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score, the amount of blood loss, the duration of ICU stay and hospital stay, and postoperative medical and surgical complications. In particular, preoperative hypoalbuminemia (serum albumin ≤ 3.5 g/dL) was associated strongly with medical complications and mortality, while postoperative hypoalbuminemia (serum albumin ≤ 2.7 g/dL) with surgical complications.


Our study demonstrated the prognostic values of albumin levels in head and neck cancer patient with liver cirrhosis. The perioperative albumin levels can be utilized for risk stratification to potentially improve surgical and postoperative management of these challenging patients.

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