The evolution and impact of sarcopenia pre- and post-liver transplantation

Rahima A Bhanji, Naoki Takahashi, Michael R Moynagh, Praveena Narayanan, Mounika Angirekula, Kristin C Mara, Ross A Dierkhising, Kymberly D Watt
Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 2019 February 3

BACKGROUND: Sarcopenia is associated with both increased wait-list mortality and mortality following liver transplantation.

AIMS: To determine the course of sarcopenia from transplant evaluation until 1 year post-transplant, and its implications on hospitalisation and mortality following liver transplantation.

METHODS: Two hundred and ninety-three transplant recipients from 2002 to 2006 had pre-transplant CT scans analysed at the third lumbar region for sarcopenia, myosteatosis and abdominal visceral fat content. Half the recipients had post-transplant CT scan for interpretation (161/293).

RESULTS: Sarcopenia was present in 146/293 (50%) of the patients pre-transplant. There was a significant decrease in muscle mass (loss 2.0 ± 4.9 cm2 /m2 ; P < 0.001), and an increase in myosteatosis while awaiting liver transplantation. There was no significant change in abdominal visceral fat. For every 1 cm2 /m2 decrease in muscle mass there was an increase in post-transplant length of stay by 0.36 days (P = 0.005). Post-transplant, 98/161 (61%) of patients with CT imaging had sarcopenia (25 de novo and 73 persistent), with continued increase in myosteatosis, lower Hounsfield units (-5.0 [IQR -8.6 to 0.1]; P < 0.001) and an increase in abdominal visceral fat (4.9 [IQR -4.4 to 15.6] cm2 /m2 ; P < 0.001). There was no statistically significant difference in 1-year mortality in patients with de novo sarcopenia compared to patients with sarcopenia both pre- and post-transplant (HR 1.88; P = 0.088).

CONCLUSIONS: Sarcopenia progresses up to 1 year following liver transplantation and is associated with an increase in post-transplant length of stay.

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