End-stage liver disease: challenges and practice implications

Nurs Clin North Am. 2010 Sep;45(3):411-26. doi: 10.1016/j.cnur.2010.03.005.


As the seventh leading cause of death among people aged 25 to 64 years, end-stage liver disease (ESLD) affects many Americans in the most productive years of their lives. Despite the increasing number of individuals who are dying of ESLD, little is documented about their end of life challenges as the disease progresses. The purpose of this article is to highlight specific challenges for people with ESLD, their families, and their implications for health care providers: ascites, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, hepatic encephalopathy, malnutrition, altered drug metabolism, renal insufficiency and hyponatremia, hepatocellular carcinoma, and pain. The authors also present a case study to illustrate disease progression and difficulties facing patients, family members, and providers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / etiology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / complications
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / therapy
  • Humans
  • Hyponatremia / etiology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / therapy*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / virology
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / therapy
  • Liver Failure / complications
  • Liver Failure / therapy*
  • Liver Failure / virology
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Palliative Care*
  • Renal Insufficiency / etiology
  • Terminal Care*