BACKGROUND: Cirrhosis and chronic liver disease carry appreciable morbidity and mortality. Cirrhotic patients frequently require hospitalization and their care is both extremely complex and labor-intensive.
AIM: We seek to provide a review for gastroenterologists, hepatologists, internists, and hospitalists on the approach to care in patients hospitalized for complications related to end-stage liver disease.
METHODS: The Mount Sinai Medical Center's inpatient liver service has developed an integrated team approach for cirrhotic patients and throughout the years has educated fellows-in-training and medical house staff on both the treatment principles and "pearls" in managing the hospitalized cirrhotic patient. We reviewed the literature and provide recommendations on the management of complications of end-stage liver disease. Additionally, we provide a review of the protocols used at our institution in the care for cirrhotic patients.
RESULTS: Major complications of advanced liver disease include infection, ascites, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, hepatic encephalopathy, portal hypertension, variceal hemorrhage, hepatorenal syndrome, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Management of these complications involves selecting the appropriate diagnostic studies and prompt administration of therapy.
CONCLUSIONS: There are many complications of cirrhosis. Management of these complications can be complex and are targeted at stabilizing the patient's clinical condition. Liver transplantation remains the only definitive treatment.