Purpose: Acute liver failure (ALF) is characterized by hepatic encephalopathy (HE) often due to intracranial hypertension (ICH). The risk/benefit-balance of intraparenchymal pressure catheter monitoring is controversial during ALF.
Aims: Perform an evaluation of transcranial Doppler (TCD) use in patients with ALF listed for emergency liver transplantation.
Material and methods: Single center retrospective cohort study including all patients registered on high emergency LT list between 2012 and 2018. All TCD measurements performed during ICU stay after listing and after LT (when performed) were recorded. TCD was considered abnormal when pulsatility index (PI) was >1.2.
Results: Among 106 patients with ALF, forty-seven (44%) had a TCD while on list. They had more severe liver and extrahepatic organ failure. When performed, TCD was abnormal in 51% of patients. These patients more frequently developed ICH events (45% vs. 13%, p = .02) and more frequently required increase in sedative drugs and vasopressors. While 22% of patients with normal TCD spontaneously survived, all of those with abnormal TCD died or were transplanted (p = .02). All transplanted patients who had abnormal exams normalized their TCD within 2 (1-2) days after LT.
Conclusion: TCD may be a useful non-invasive tool for ICH detection and management, then guide sedation withdrawal.