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Summary

Background

The assessment of alcoholic hepatitis remains controversial. Several scores have been developed or used for this purpose.

Aim

To study the use of the Glasgow Alcoholic Hepatitis Score (GAHS), the Discriminant Function (DF), Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) and the ABIC (age, bilirubin, INR and creatinine) scores as well as scores to assess corticosteroid response in the management of alcoholic hepatitis.

Methods

A total of 182 patients were studied prospectively. The GAHS, MELD, ABIC and DF scores were recorded on admission and serially over the first week of hospital management. Treatment with corticosteroids or pentoxifylline was considered if the GAHS was ≥9.

Results

There were no differences in outcome between favourable scores as per recommended cut-off points. Patients with a GAHS<9 had similar outcome whether their MELD, DF or ABIC scores were favourable or unfavourable. Treated patients with a GAHS≥9 had a significantly better 90-day outcome than those who did not: 58% and 30% respectively, P = 0.01; HR 0.33 (0.14, 0.78).

Patients treated with corticosteroids who had a fall in bilirubin of 25% after a week of treatment had an improved survival: 82% compared with 44% [P = 0.0005: HR 3.70 (1.77, 7.73)]. The Lille Score or a 25% fall in bilirubin had greater sensitivities than an early change in bilirubin level (95% and 90% compared with 58%) to assess treatment response.

Conclusions

In this single-centre study, a GAHS ≥9 identified patients who may benefit from treatment of alcoholic hepatitis. Intention-to-treat randomised-controlled trials using a GAHS ≥9 as the threshold for treatment are needed to validate these findings. Response to corticosteroids can be assessed using the Lille Score or by a 25% fall in bilirubin.