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Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi (Taipei). 1997 Feb;59(2):88-94.

The outcome of terminal liver cirrhosis patients requiring mechanical ventilation.

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Department of Medicine, Veterans General Hospital-Kaobsiung, Taiwan, R.O.C.



Liver cirrhosis is a common problem in Taiwan. Without liver transplantation, patients with end-stage liver cirrhosis frequently die of various complications and often require mechanical ventilatory support prior to their death. The purpose of this study was to investigate the in-hospital and short-term outcome of such patients.


A retrospective review of 47 medical records of mechanically ventilated patients with primary diagnosis of liver cirrhosis, admitted from November 1990 to September 1993, allowed analysis of disease course and outcome for these patients.


Among the 47 patients, a Child-Pugh's class A patient receiving temporary mechanical ventilation (MV) after elective devascularization surgery was excluded from analysis. Among the remaining medically treated 46 patients, there were 33 Child-Pugh's class C patients, 9 class B patients and 4 unclassified patients. Primary reasons for endotracheal intubation and MV included airway protection, acute respiratory distress and shock. Of these patients, shock was present in 39 cases, upper gastrointestinal bleeding in 34, systemic inflammatory response syndrome in 32, renal insufficiency with creatinine greater than 1.3 mg/dl in 32, bacteremia in 14, parenchymal lung disease in 16, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis in 10, and intracerebral hemorrhage in 1 during their hospital courses. Thirty-eight patients (83%) died within 72 hours after being placed on mechanical ventilation. Patients requiring MV with complications of bacteremia, parenchymal lung disease or renal insufficiency during hospitalization were found to have a 100% mortality rate. Successful weaning occurred in only 3 of 46 patients (8.7%). Of these three, two (4.3%) went home alive and had survived over six months after discharge.


It was concluded that cirrhotic patients requiring MV have an extremely poor prognosis. Patients and their families should be fully informed of the prognosis, and routine use of MV should not be encouraged in patients with terminal stage liver disease.

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