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Keywords:

  • liver cirrhosis;
  • liver transplantation;
  • model for end-stage liver disease;
  • model for end-stage liver disease-sodium;
  • portal hypertension;
  • sodium

Abstract

Liver cirrhosis and portal hypertension pose enormous loss of lives and resources throughout the world, especially in endemic areas of chronic viral hepatitis. Although the pathophysiology of cirrhosis is not completely understood, the accumulating evidence has paved the way for better control of the complications, including gastroesophageal variceal bleeding, hepatic encephalopathy, ascites, hepatorenal syndrome, hepatopulmonary syndrome and portopulmonary hypertension. Modern pharmacological and interventional therapies have been designed to treat these complications. However, liver transplantation (LT) is the only definite treatment for patients with preterminal end-stage liver disease. To pursue successful LT, the meticulous evaluation of potential recipients and donors is pivotal, especially for living donor transplantation. The critical shortage of cadaveric donor livers is another concern. In many Asian countries, cultural and religious concerns further limit the number of the donors, which lags far behind that of the recipients. The model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) scoring system has recently become the prevailing criterion for organ allocation. Initial results showed clear benefits of moving from the Child–Turcotte–Pugh-based system toward the MELD-based organ allocation system. In addition to the MELD, serum sodium is another important prognostic predictor in patients with advanced cirrhosis. The incorporation of serum sodium into the MELD could enhance the performance of the MELD and could become an indispensable strategy in refining the priority for LT. However, the feasibility of the MELD in combination with sodium in predicting the outcome for patients on transplant waiting list awaits actual outcome data before this becomes standard practice in the Asia–Pacific region.