OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether vascular inflow occlusion by the Pringle maneuver during hepatectomy can be safe and effective in reducing blood loss. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Hepatectomy can be performed with a low mortality rate, but massive hemorrhage during surgery remains a potentially lethal problem. The Pringle maneuver is traditionally used during hepatectomy to reduce blood loss, but there is a potential harmful effect on the metabolic function of hepatocytes. There has been no prospective randomized study to determine whether the Pringle maneuver can decrease blood loss during hepatectomy, improve outcome, or affect the metabolism of hepatocytes. METHODS: From July 1995 to February 1997, we studied 100 consecutive patients who underwent hepatectomy for liver tumors. The patients were randomly assigned to liver transection under intermittent Pringle maneuver of 20 minutes and a 5-minute clamp-free interval (n = 50), or liver transection without the Pringle maneuver (n = 50). The surface area of liver transection was measured and blood loss during transection per square centimeter of transection area was calculated. Routine liver biochemistry, arterial ketone body ratio (AKBR), and the indocyanine green (ICG) clearance test were done. RESULTS: The two groups were comparable in terms of preoperative liver function and in the proportion of patients having major hepatectomy. The Pringle maneuver resulted in less blood loss per square centimeter of transection area (12 mL/cm2 vs. 22 mL/cm2, p = 0.0001), a shorter transection time per square centimeter of transection area (2 min/cm2 vs. 2.8 min/cm2, p = 0.016), a significantly higher AKBR in the first 2 hours after hepatectomy, lower serum bilirubin levels in the early postoperative period, and, in cirrhotic patients, higher serum transferrin levels on postoperative days 1 and 8. The complication rate, the hospital mortality rate, and the ICG retention at 15 minutes on postoperative day 8 were equal for the two groups. CONCLUSION: Performing the Pringle maneuver during liver transection resulted in less blood loss and better preservation of liver function in the early postoperative period. This is probably because there was less hemodynamic disturbance induced by the bleeding.
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