Background: Morphological, haemodynamic and clinical stages of cirrhosis have been proposed, although no definite staging system is yet accepted for clinical practice.
Aim: To investigate whether clinical complications of cirrhosis may define different prognostic disease stages.
Methods: Analysis of the database from a prospective inception cohort of 494 patients. Decompensation was defined by ascites, bleeding, jaundice or encephalopathy. Explored potential prognostic stages: 1, compensated cirrhosis without oesophago-gastric varices; 2, compensated cirrhosis with varices; 3, bleeding without other complications; 4, first nonbleeding decompensation; 5, any second decompensating event. Patient flow across stages was assessed by a competing risks analysis.
Results: Major patient characteristics were: 199 females, 295 males, 404 HCV+, 377 compensated, 117 decompensated cirrhosis. The mean follow-up was 145 ± 109 months without dropouts. Major events: 380 deaths, 326 oesophago-gastric varices, 283 ascites, 158 bleeding, 146 encephalopathy, 113 jaundice, 126 hepatocellular carcinoma and 19 liver transplantation. Patients entering each prognostic stage along the disease course were: 202, stage 1; 216, stage 2; 75 stage 3; 206 stage 4; 213 stage 5. Five-year transition rate towards a different stage, for stages 1-4 was 34.5%, 42%, 65% and 78%, respectively (P < 0.0001); 5-year mortality for stages 1-5 was 1.5%, 10%, 20%, 30% and 88% respectively (P < 0.0001). An exploratory analysis showed that this patient stratification may configure a prognostic system independent of the Child-Pugh score, Model for End Stage Liver Disease and comorbidity.
Conclusion: The development of oesophago-gastric varices and decompensating events in cirrhosis identify five prognostic stages with significantly increasing mortality risks.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.