Impact of Liver Transplantation on Carbon Monoxide Production as Measured by Arterial Carboxyhemoglobin Levels in Cirrhotic Patients with and without Hepatopulmonary Syndrome

Author Department

Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



BACKGROUND Hepatic dysfunction is associated with increased production of carbon monoxide. End-stage liver disease patients with hepatopulmonary syndrome (HPS) have been shown to have higher blood carbon monoxide levels than those without HPS. The impact of liver transplantation on blood carbon monoxide levels is currently unknown. We assessed the impact of liver transplantation on blood carbon monoxide and whether this is affected by HPS. MATERIAL AND METHODS Eligible liver transplant recipients had room air arterial blood gas testing performed before and after liver transplantation. The carboxyhemoglobin fraction was obtained from arterial co-oximetry and used as a surrogate for carboxyhemoglobin production. Mean arterial carboxyhemoglobin fraction before transplantation was compared to that after transplantation. Mean absolute and median relative pre- to post-transplant within-patient change in carboxyhemoglobin fraction was compared between those with and without HPS. RESULTS Thirty-nine transplanted cirrhotic patients were analyzed, of whom 14 (36%) met criteria for hepatopulmonary syndrome. The mean pre-transplant carboxyhemoglobin fraction was higher than the post-transplant fraction (2.6 vs 1.8, difference 0.8 [95% CI 0.4-1.2]; P value 0.0002). Of the 14 patients with HPS, 11 (79%) experienced a decrease in their carboxyhemoglobin fraction after liver transplantation; among the 25 patients without HPS, 16 (64%) experienced such a decrease (P=0.48). Neither the absolute nor relative within-patient pre- to post-transplant change in carboxyhemoglobin fraction was significantly different between patients with and without HPS. CONCLUSIONS Blood carbon monoxide levels decreased significantly in cirrhotic patients following liver transplantation, but HPS did not affect the magnitude of this change.