Background: Indices for predicting survival are essential for assessing prognosis and assigning priority for liver transplantation in patients with liver cirrhosis. The model for end stage liver disease (MELD) has been proposed as a tool to predict mortality risk in cirrhotic patients. However, this model has not been validated beyond its original setting. Aim: To evaluate the short and medium term survival prognosis of a European series of cirrhotic patients by means of MELD compared with the Child-Pugh score. We also assessed correlations between the MELD scoring system and the degree of impairment of liver function, as evaluated by the monoethylglycinexylidide (MEGX) test. Patients and methods: We retrospectively evaluated survival of a cohort of 129 cirrhotic patients with a follow up period of at least one year. The Child-Pugh score was calculated and the MELD score was computed according to the original formula for each patient. All patients had undergone a MEGX test. Multivariate analysis was performed on all variables to identify the parameters independently associated with one year and six month survival. MELD values were correlated with both Child-Pugh scores and MEGX test results. Results: Thirty one patients died within the first year of follow up. Child-Pugh and MELD scores, and MEGX serum levels were significantly different among patients who survived and those who died. Serum creatinine, international normalised ratio, and MEGX60 were independently associated with six month mortality while the same variables and the presence of ascites were associated with one year mortality. MELD scores showed significant correlations with both MEGX values and Child-Pugh scores. Conclusions: In a European series of cirrhotic patients the MELD score is an excellent predictor of both short and medium term survival, and performs at least as well as the Child-Pugh score. An increase in MELD score is associated with a decrease in residual liver function.
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