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 last 18 months are reviewed.
RECENT FINDINGS: Predictors of response to lactulose therapy in hepatic encephalopathy have been reported, along with the effect of minimal hepatic encephalopathy on driving. Rifaximin was found to lead to better maintenance of remission and decreased readmission rates in patients with cirrhosis and hepatic encephalopathy. Satavaptan (a vasopressin receptor antagonist) was investigated for treatment of refractory ascites and appeared to be effective, but this compound is not currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Patients with refractory ascites taking propranolol were found to have poorer outcomes than those not taking propranolol. Terlipressin currently appears to be the best medical therapy available for patients with type 1 HRS; the addition with albumin to terlipressin appeared to decrease mortality in patients with type 1 HRS. In primary prophylaxis of EVH, carvedilol was found to reduce the rate of initial bleeding compared with band ligation. Early transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunts placed in highly selected patients with acute EVH and a high risk of endoscopic failure decreased long-term mortality. In patients with gastric varices, primary prophylaxis with cyanoacrylate may decrease the probability of gastric variceal hemorrhage compared with nonselective beta-blockers.
SUMMARY: Refinement in clinical management strategies for patients with cirrhosis and its complications appear to continue to contribute to improved patient outcomes.