Background: Prognosis of decompensated alcoholic cirrhosis is based mainly on studies that included patients with different severities of liver disease and did not recognize either hepatitis C virus epidemic or changes in clinical management of cirrhosis. Aim: To define the long-term course after the first hepatic decompensation in alcoholic cirrhosis. Methods: Prospective inclusion at the start point of decompensated cirrhosis of 165 consecutive patients with alcoholic cirrhosis without known hepatocellular carcinoma hospitalized from January 1998 to December 2001 was made. Follow-up was maintained until death or the end of the observation period (April 1, 2010). Results: The patients were followed for 835.75 patient years. Median age was 56 years (95% confidence interval: 54-58). Baseline Child-Pugh score was 9 (95% CI: 8-9), and model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) was 13.8 (95% CI: 12.5-14.7). Ascites was the most frequent first decompensation (51%). During follow-up, 99 (60%) patients were abstinent, hepatocellular carcinoma developed in 18 (11%) patients, and 116 patients died (70%). Median overall survival was 61 months (95% CI: 48-74). Median survival probability after onset of hepatic encephalopathy (HE) was only 14 months (95% CI: 5-23). Age, baseline MELD, albumin, development of HE, and persistence of alcohol use were independently correlated with mortality. Conclusions: Patients with alcoholic cirrhosis show a high frequency of complications. The low mortality rate in our cohort of patients probably reflects the improvement in the management of patients with cirrhosis; it is mainly influenced by baseline MELD, age, HE development, and continued abstinence. Patients who develop HE should be considered for hepatic transplantation. Copyright © 2011 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
- Child-Pugh score
- hepatic encephalopathy
- hepatocellular carcinoma
- model for end-stage liver disease