Sarcopenia Is Risk Factor for Development of Hepatic Encephalopathy After Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt Placement

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Abstract

Background & Aims

Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is an important complication in patients with cirrhosis who received transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunts (TIPS). We investigated whether a decrease in muscle mass was associated independently with the occurrence of HE after TIPS.

Methods

We performed a prospective study of 46 consecutive patients with cirrhosis (mean age, 58.6 ± 9.1 y; mean model for end-stage liver disease score, 11.3 ± 3.3; mean Child–Pugh score, 7.6 ± 1.5) who received TIPS from January 2013 through December 2014 at a tertiary center in Rome, Italy. All patients underwent computed tomography analysis at the level of the third lumbar vertebrae to determine the skeletal muscle index; sarcopenia was defined by sex-specific cut-off values. We estimated the incidence of the first episode of HE after TIPS, taking into account the competing risk nature of the data (death or liver transplantation).

Results

Twenty-six patients (57%) were found to have sarcopenia. Twenty-one patients (46%) developed overt HE in the 7 ± 9 months after TIPS placement; all of these patients were sarcopenic, according to the skeletal muscle index. Of the 25 patients without HE after TIPS, only 5 had sarcopenia. In multivariate analysis, model for end-stage liver disease score (subdistribution hazard ratio, 1.16; 95% confidence interval, 1.01–1.34; P = .043) and sarcopenia (subdistribution hazard ratio, 31.3; 95% confidence interval, 4.5–218.07; P < .001) were associated independently with the development of HE after TIPS placement.

Conclusions

In a prospective study of 46 patients with cirrhosis, we found muscle wasting, probably owing to reduced processing of ammonia, to be associated with the development of HE after TIPS placement. Sarcopenia should be considered in selecting patients for TIPS therapy. Nutritional status should be evaluated in patients with sarcopenia before TIPS placement, which might reduce the incidence of HE.

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