Background: Elevations in liver function tests have been reported in patients receiving total parenteral nutrition (TPN). The clinical aspects of end-stage liver disease (ESLD) associated with the prolonged use of home TPN have not been fully clarified. In previous series patients with duodenocolostomies appeared to be at higher risk than persons with some jejunum or ileum remaining in situ.
Methods: The records of 42 patients treated with home TPN for more than 1 year were examined. This constituted 283 person-years of home TPN. Patients with duodenocolostomies were examined as a separate group on the basis of the literature experience.
Results: Six of 42 patients who received chronic home TPN had ESLD with 100% subsequent mortality, at an average of 10.8 +/- 7.1 months after the initial bilirubin elevation. Thirteen of 42 patients had superior mesenteric artery or vein thrombosis (SMT) leading to duodenocolostomy. In 8 of these 13 patients with SMT and underlying inflammatory or malignant disorder, 2 had ESLD. The remaining 5 SMT patients who had only minimal liver enzyme elevation over 13.6 +/- 6.7 (range 3 to 19) years of home TPN were significantly younger (36 +/- 7 years vs 64 +/- 13 years) and did not have underlying inflammation either by clinical diagnosis or as reflected in the high normal serum albumin level (> or = 4.0 g/dL). Despite their extreme short bowel syndrome and long exposure to home TPN, ESLD did not develop.
Conclusions: Approximately 15% of patients who receive prolonged TPN have ESLD with a high rate of morbidity and mortality. The combination of chronic inflammation and the short bowel syndrome appears to be necessary for the development of ESLD with prolonged home TPN.