Source University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Division of Digestive and Liver Disease and the Department of Internal Medicine, Dallas, Texas, USA.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Chronic liver disease (CLD) causes significant morbidity and mortality, mainly due to complications [hepatic encephalopathy, ascites, hepatorenal syndrome (HRS), and esophageal variceal hemorrhage (EVH)]. Studies of the complications, management and outcomes in patients with CLD over the past 18 months are reviewed.
RECENT FINDINGS: Percutaneous liver biopsy can be safely performed in patients with advanced liver disease with minimal complications. Predictors of response to lactulose, probiotics and L-ornithine-L-aspartate therapy in minimal hepatic encephalopathy have been reported. Rifaximin was found to lead to better maintenance of remission and decreased re-admission rates in patients with cirrhosis and hepatic encephalopathy, and may improve driving performance in those with minimal hepatic encephalopathy. In a controversial study, patients with refractory ascites taking propranolol were found to have poorer outcomes, perhaps related to beta-blockade associated paracentesis-induced circulatory dysfunction. Terlipressin and albumin therapy currently appears to be the best medical therapy available in patients with type 1 HRS, although pentoxifylline may be effective to treat HRS in patients with cirrhosis and ascites. In patients with gastric varices, primary prophylaxis with cyanoacrylate may decrease the probability of gastric variceal hemorrhage compared to nonselective beta-blockers. In patients with esophageal varices without bleeding, prophylaxis with variceal ligation or beta-blockers was similar in terms of bleeding, mortality, and adverse events. Erythromycin given 30 min prior to endoscopic evaluation in suspected EVH was associated with an overall benefit in visibility, duration of the procedure and length of hospital stay.
SUMMARY: Refinement in clinical management strategies for patients with cirrhosis and its complications appears to continue to contribute to improved patient outcomes.