Objectives: The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of protein-calorie malnutrition, characteristics, and clinical importance of nutrition disorders in patients with liver cirrhosis according to severity of disease.
Methods: Nutrition assessments such as subjective global assessment, anthropometric and biochemical measurements, immunocompentency, thiamin and riboflavin status in 60 patients with cirrhosis (33 male and 27 female) were recorded between June 1999 and December 1999 at an outpatient clinic at Ramathibodi Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand. The origin of liver disease was alcohol related in 50% of patients. Child-Pugh criteria were used to establish the severity of liver disease.
Results: In terms of energy malnutrition, 13.3% of patients had ideal body weights below 90% and 11.7% had body mass indexes below 18.5 kg/m(2). Protein malnutrition (low albumin) and immunoincompetence (abnormal response to skin tests) were found much more frequently (45% and 22%) than energy malnutrition. Patients with alcoholic cirrhosis had ascites (P < 0.05) and hepatic encephalopathy (P < 0.001) more frequently and less triceps skinfold thickness than those with non-alcoholic cirrhosis. Subjective global assessment and serum proteins correlated with the degree of liver-function impairment, but immunologic tests correlated inversely in cirrhosis patients. Mean values for creatinine-height index, hemoglobin, cholesterol, and complement C4 showed significant decreases in severe liver failure (Child-Pugh class C) only in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis (P < 0.05). Malnutrition was correlated with the clinical severity of liver disease.
Conclusions: The study showed that protein-energy malnutrition is a common complication of liver cirrhosis. Nutritional disorders appeared to be related to the degree of liver injury and the etiology of nutritional disorders. Nutritional disorders were more severe with alcoholic cirrhosis than with non-alcoholic cirrhosis.