Prognostic indicators of survival in patients with compensated and decompensated cirrhosis



Alexander Zipprich, MD

First Department of Internal Medicine

Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg

Ernst-Grube-Str. 40

06120 Halle/Saale, Germany

Tel: +49 34 5557 2665

Fax: +49 34 5557 2253




Patients with cirrhosis are classified in a compensated and a decompensated stage. Portal hypertension is responsible for most of the complications of cirrhosis that mark the transition from compensated to decompensated cirrhosis. The objectives of this study were (a) to analyse survival of the different stages and substages of cirrhosis and (b) to examine the prognostic value of the hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) at each of the stages.


A total of 729 patients with suspected cirrhosis underwent routine measurement of portal pressure and systemic haemodynamics between 11/1995 and 12/2004. The primary end-point of the study was death, collected until November 30th, 2006. Multivariable analysis was performed using two models to determine predictors of death at each stage.


A total of 443 patients were included in the study. The 1-year mortality was 5.4% in compensated and 20.2% in decompensated patients. Compensated patients in stage 1 (no varices) had a longer survival than stage 2 patients (varices present) (P = 0.015). In decompensated patients, survival was not different between stage 3 (ascites, with or without varices) and stage 4 (variceal haemorrhage, with or without ascites). Age and HVPG (cut-off 10 mmHg) were independent predictors of death in compensated patients, whereas MELD was in decompensated patients.


Survival rates and predictors of death are different between patients with compensated and decompensated cirrhosis. Unlike the Italian cohort staging system, ascites is a better stratifying clinical event than variceal haemorrhage in patients with decompensated cirrhosis. The presence of clinically significant portal hypertension has prognostic value in compensated cirrhosis.