Liver transplantation (LT) is a challenging surgery performed on patients with complex physiology profiles, complicated by multi-system dysfunction. It represents the treatment of choice for end-stage liver disease. The procedure is performed under general anaesthesia, and a successful procedure requires an excellent understanding of the pathophysiology of liver failure and its implications. Despite advances in knowledge and technical skills and innovations in immunosuppression, the anaesthetic management for LT can be complicated and represent a real challenge. Monitoring devices offer crucial information for the successful management of patients. Hemodynamic instability is typical during surgery, requiring sophisticated invasive monitoring. Arterial pulse contour analysis and thermo-dilution techniques (PiCCO), rotational thromboelastometry (RO-TEM), transcranial doppler (TCD), trans-oesophageal echocardiography (TEE) and bispectral index (BIS) have been proven to be reliable monitoring techniques playing a significant role in decision making. Anaesthetic management is specific according to the three critical phases of surgery: pre-anhepatic, anhepatic and neo-hepatic phase. Surgical techniques such as total or partial clamping of the inferior vena cava (IVC), use of venovenous bypass (VVBP) or portocaval shunts have a significant impact on cardiovascular stability. Post reperfusion syndrome (PRS) is a significant event and can lead to arrhythmias and even cardiac arrest.
Lactic acidosis (LA) in end-stage liver disease (ESLD) patients has been recognized as one of the most complicated clinical problems and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Multiple-organ failure, associated with advanced stages of cirrhosis, exacerbates dysfunction of numerous parts of lactate metabolism cycle, which manifests as increased lactate production and impaired clearance, leading to severe LA-induced acidemia. These problems become especially prominent in ESLD patients, that undergo partial hepatectomy and, particularly, liver transplantation. Perioperative management of LA and associated severe acidemia is an inseparable part of anesthesia, post-operative and critical care for this category of patients, presenting a wide variety of challenges. In this review, lactic acidosis applied pathophysiology, clinical implications for ESLD patients, diagnosis, role of intraoperative factors, such as anesthesia- and surgery-related, vasoactive agents impact, and also current treatment options and modalities have been discussed.