Nutritional status: its influence on the outcome of patients undergoing liver transplantation


Prof. Manuela Merli, II Gastroenterologia Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica Viale dell'Università 37 00185 Rome, Italy
Tel/Fax: +39-06-49972001


Background: Malnutrition is frequently present in case of end-stage liver diseases, and in cirrhotic patients, a poor nutritional status is considered to be one of the predictive factors for increased morbidity and mortality rates after surgery. The impact of the recipients' malnutrition on the outcome of liver transplantation (LT) is still under debate and recent studies have shown controversial results.

Patients and methods: We prospectively analysed the nutritional status of 38 consecutive patients undergoing LT in our University Hospital. Subjective global nutritional assessments (SGA) and anthropometry were used for the evaluation of the nutritional status. Energy expenditure, dietary intake and energy balance were also evaluated. After LT, multiple short-term outcomes that could be influenced by the nutritional status, such as number of episodes of infections (bacterial, viral and fungal) until discharge from hospital, length of stay in intensive care unit (ICU), length of hospital stay and in-hospital graft and patient's survival, were recorded.

Results: Malnutrition was identified in 53% of cases according to the SGA. Pretransplant nutritional status, haemoglobin levels and disease severity were independently associated with the number of infection episodes during the hospital stay. The presence of malnutrition was the only independent risk factor for the length of stay in the ICU and the total number of days spent in hospital.

Conclusion: The present data suggest that recipients' malnutrition should be taken into account as a factor that increases complications and costs after LT.