Computed Tomography Measures of Nutrition in Patients With End-Stage Liver Disease Provide a Novel Approach to Characterize Deficits

W. J. Bush, J. P. Davis, M. A. Maluccio, C. A. Kubal, J. B. Salisbury, R. S. Mangus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Patients with cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease (ESLD) develop severe nutrition deficits that affect morbidity and mortality. Laboratory measures of nutrition fail to fully assess clinical deficits in muscle mass and fat stores. This study employs computed tomography imaging to assess muscle mass and subcutaneous and visceral fat stores in patients with ESLD. Methods: This 1:1 case-control study design compares ESLD patients with healthy controls. Study patients were selected from a database of ESLD patients using a stratified method to assure a representative sample based on age, body mass index (BMI), sex, and model for end-stage liver disease score (MELD). Control patients were trauma patients with a low injury severity score (<10) who had a computed tomography scan during evaluation. Cases and controls were matched for age ± 5 years, sex, and BMI ± 2. Results: There were 90 subjects and 90 controls. ESLD patients had lower albumin levels (P <.001), but similar total protein levels (P =.72). ESLD patients had a deficit in muscle mass (−19%, P <.001) and visceral fat (−13%, P <.001), but similar subcutaneous fat (−1%, P =.35). ESLD patients at highest risk for sarcopenia included those over age 60, BMI<25.0, and female sex. We found degree of sarcopenia to be independent of model for end-stage liver disease score. Conclusions: These results support previous research demonstrating substantial nutrition deficits in ESLD patients that are not adequately measured by laboratory testing. Patients with ESLD have significant deficits of muscle and visceral fat stores, but a similar amount of subcutaneous fat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3501-3507
Number of pages7
JournalTransplantation proceedings
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Transplantation

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