Which preoperative assessment modalities best identify patients who are suitable for enhanced recovery after liver transplantation? – A systematic review of the literature and expert panel recommendations.

Crespo G; Hessheimer AJ; Armstrong MJ; Berzigotti A; Monbaliu D; Spiro M; Rapti DA; Lai JC;

Clinical transplantation [Clin Transplant] 2022 Mar 16, pp. e14644.
Date of Electronic Publication: 2022 Mar 16.

Background: To implement Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols for liver transplant (LT) candidates, it is essential to identify tools that can help risk stratify patients by their risk of early adverse post-LT outcomes.
Objective: We aimed to identify pre-LT tools that assess functional capacity, frailty, and muscle mass that can best risk stratify patients by their risk of adverse post-LT outcomes.
Methods: We first conducted a systematic review following PRISMA guidelines, expert panel review and recommendations using the GRADE approach (PROSPERO ID CRD42021237434). After confirming there are no studies evaluating assessment modalities for ERAS protocols for LT recipients specifically, the approach of the review focused on pre-LT modalities that identify LT recipients at higher risk of worse early post-LT outcomes (≤90 days), considering that this is particularly pertinent when evaluating candidates for ERAS.
Results: Twenty-two studies were included in the review, encompassing three different types of pre-LT modalities: evaluation of physical function (including frailty and general physical scores like the Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS), assessment of cardiopulmonary capacity, and estimation of muscle mass and composition. The majority of studies evaluated frailty assessment and muscle mass. Most studies, except for liver frailty index (LFI), were retrospective and single-center. All assessment modalities could identify, in different grade, LT recipients with higher risk of early post-LT mortality, length of stay or postoperative complications.
Conclusions: We identified 4 pre-LT assessment tools that could be used to identify patients who are suitable for ERAS protocols: 1) KPS (quality of evidence moderate, grade of recommendation strong), 2) LFI (quality of evidence moderate, grade of recommendation strong), 3) abdominal muscle mass by CT (quality of evidence moderate, grade of recommendation strong), and 4) cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) (quality of evidence moderate, grade of recommendation weak). We recommend that selection of the appropriate tool depends on the specific clinical setting and available resources to administer the tool, and that use of a tool be incorporated into the routine pre-operative assessment when considering implementation of ERAS protocols for LT.