Child–Pugh and MELD scores have been widely used for the assessment of prognosis in liver cirrhosis. A systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to compare the discriminative ability of Child–Pugh versus MELD score to assess the prognosis of cirrhotic patients.
PubMed and EMBASE databases were searched. The statistical results were summarized from every individual study. The summary areas under receiver operating characteristic curves, sensitivities, specificities, positive and negative likelihood ratios, and diagnostic odds ratios were also calculated.
Of the 1095 papers initially identified, 119 were eligible for the systematic review. Study population was heterogeneous among studies. They included 269 comparisons, of which 44 favored MELD score, 16 favored Child–Pugh score, 99 did not find any significant difference between them, and 110 did not report the statistical significance. Forty-two papers were further included in the meta-analysis. In patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure, Child–Pugh score had a higher sensitivity and a lower specificity than MELD score. In patients admitted to ICU, MELD score had a smaller negative likelihood ratio and a higher sensitivity than Child–Pugh score. In patients undergoing surgery, Child–Pugh score had a higher specificity than MELD score. In other subgroup analyses, Child–Pugh and MELD scores had statistically similar discriminative abilities or could not be compared due to the presence of significant diagnostic threshold effects.
Although Child–Pugh and MELD scores had similar prognostic values in most of cases, their benefits might be heterogeneous in some specific conditions. The indications for Child–Pugh and MELD scores should be further identified.