• body composition;
  • DEXA;
  • orthotopic liver transplantation;
  • total body potassium

ABSTRACT—Aims/Background: The effects of orthotopic liver transplantation on body composition are unclear. We aimed to assess changes in body composition after transplantation using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry and total body potassium. Methods: Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry and total body potassium counting to assess muscle mass were performed in 55 patients before and up to 24 months after liver transplantation and the results expressed as paired data before and at time intervals after transplantation. Results: The results showed that total body weight fell by 3.6 ± 1.3 kg (p<0.02) at 1 month, with a maximal fall in lean tissue mass at 2–5 months of 4.8 ± 1.2 kg (p<0.003). Thereafter, no change in lean tissue mass was recorded, although there were increases at 12 and 24 months of total body weight (11.5 ± 2.4 kg, 7.8 ± 3.1 kg; p<0.03, respectively) and fat mass (12.9 ± 2.2 and 10.5 ± 2.7 kg; p<0.003). A fall in total body potassium was seen at 1 month (118 ± 12 mmol; p<0.003) and 2–5 months (176 ± 9.9 mmol; p<0.03), which mirrored the fall in lean mass. Conclusions: After liver transplantation there is an initial fall in body weight due to a loss of lean mass. Lean mass does not recover after transplantation, although there is an increase in fat mass that leads to the observed increase in total body weight.