Serum sodium predicts mortality in patients listed for liver transplantation


  • Conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


With the implementation of the model for end-stage liver disease (MELD), refractory ascites, a known predictor of mortality in cirrhosis, was removed as a criterion for liver allocation. Because ascites is associated with low serum sodium, we evaluated serum sodium as an independent predictor of mortality in patients with cirrhosis who were listed for liver transplantation and whether the addition of serum sodium to MELD was superior to MELD alone. This is a single-center retrospective cohort of all adult patients with cirrhosis listed for transplantation from February 27, 2002, to December 26, 2003. Listing laboratories were those nearest the listing date ±2 months. Of the 513 patients meeting inclusion criteria, 341 were still listed, while 172 were removed from the list (105 for transplantation, 56 for death, 11 for other reasons). The median serum sodium and MELD scores were 137 mEq/L (range, 110-155) and 15 (range, 6-51), respectively, at listing. Median follow-up was 201 (range, 1-662) days. The risk of death with serum sodium < 126 mEq/L at listing or while listed was increased, with hazard ratios of 7.8 (P < .001) and 6.3 (P < .001), respectively, and the association was independent of MELD. The c-statistics of receiver operating characteristic curves for predicting mortality at 3 months based upon listing MELD with and without listing serum sodium were 0.883 and 0.897, respectively, and at 6 months were 0.871 and 0.905, respectively. In conclusion, serum sodium < 126 mEq/L at listing or while listed for transplantation is a strong independent predictor of mortality. Addition of serum sodium to MELD increases the ability to predict 3- and 6-month mortality in patients with cirrhosis. (HEPATOLOGY 2005;41:32–39.)