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Keywords:

  • liver transplantation;
  • MELD score;
  • risk factors;
  • waiting list

Summary

Model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score has emerged as a useful tool in predicting mortality in patients awaiting liver transplantation. There is still, however, discussion as to whether further parameters could improve the sensitivity and specificity of the MELD score. From 1997 to 2003, 621 adult patients with end-stage liver disease were listed for orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). Patients suffering from hepatoma were excluded from analysis (113 patients). The MELD score was investigated at the time of listing (MELD ON) and of coming off the list (MELD OFF). Patients who died while on the waiting list showed a significant increase in their MELD score during the waiting time (MELD ON: 21 ± 7 vs. MELD OFF: 28 ± 9) as well as a significantly higher MELD ON compared with patients who were transplanted (MELD ON: 16 ± 5 vs. MELD OFF: 17 ± 7) or removed from the waiting list (MELD ON: 16 ± 6 vs. MELD OFF: 12 ± 3). Multivariate analysis identified MELD ON, ascites and recurrent infection as independent risk factors for death on the waiting list (P < 0.01). MELD score was not identified as a predictor for the post-transplant survival rate. MELD score is a strong predictor for death on the waiting list, but refractory ascites and recurrent infection are independent risk factors, too.