Prognostic factors in alcoholic liver disease. VA Cooperative Study Group

Am J Gastroenterol. 1991 Feb;86(2):210-6.


Two hundred eighty-one alcoholic patients were prospectively evaluated by clinical, biochemical, and histologic parameters during a 4-yr period to assess their prognosis. They were stratified into four categories of injury: 1) fatty liver (26 patients), 2) acute alcoholic hepatitis (106), 3) cirrhosis (39), and 4) cirrhosis with superimposed alcoholic hepatitis (111). The rate of survival and variables correlating with survival varied according to the group. At 48 months, 70% of the patients with fatty liver were alive, 58% in the alcoholic hepatitis group, 49% in cirrhosis, and 35% in alcoholic hepatitis superimposed upon cirrhosis. Within group one, deaths were due to causes unrelated to liver disease. In the alcoholic hepatitis group, factors significantly correlating with survival were ascites, alanine amino-transferase levels, grams of alcohol consumed, continuation of alcohol intake, and clinical severity of disease. Survival in patients of group three correlated significantly with prothrombin time and histologic severity score. Patients with combined cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis exhibited the worst prognosis, with the most significant predictors of survival being age, grams of alcohol consumed, the ratio of serum aminotransferases (AST:ALT) and the histologic and clinical severity of the disease. Although a different pattern of correlates was observed for each pathologic level of injury, knowledge of the various correlates aids in prognostic assessment.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Ascites / complications
  • Fatty Liver / mortality
  • Hepatitis, Alcoholic / mortality
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / mortality
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / complications
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / mortality*
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / pathology
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prothrombin Time
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Veterans


  • Alanine Transaminase