Patient Frailty Is Independently Associated With the Risk of Hospitalization for Acute-on-Chronic Liver Failure

Liver Transpl. 2021 Jan;27(1):16-26. doi: 10.1002/lt.25896. Epub 2020 Oct 28.


There is significant interest in identifying risk factors associated with acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). In transplant candidates, frailty predicts wait-list mortality and posttransplant outcomes. However, the impact of frailty on ACLF development and mortality is unknown. This was a retrospective study of US veterans with cirrhosis identified between 2008 and 2016. First hospitalizations were characterized as ACLF or non-ACLF admissions. Prehospitalization patient frailty was ascertained using a validated score based on administrative coding data. We used logistic regression to investigate the impact of an increasing frailty score on the odds of ACLF hospitalization and short-term ACLF mortality. Cox regression was used to analyze the association between frailty and longterm survival from hospitalization. We identified 16,561 cirrhosis hospitalizations over a median follow-up of 4.19 years (interquartile range, 2.47-6.34 years). In adjusted models, increasing frailty score was associated with significantly increased odds of ACLF hospitalization versus non-ACLF hospitalization (odds ratio, 1.03 per point; 95% CI 1.02-1.03; P < 0.001). By contrast, frailty score was not associated with ACLF 28- or 90-day mortality (P = 0.13 and P = 0.33, respectively). In an adjusted Cox analysis of all hospitalizations, increasing frailty scores were associated with poorer longterm survival from the time of hospitalization (hazard ratio, 1.02 per 5 points; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-1.03; P = 0.004). Frailty increases the likelihood of ACLF hospitalization among patients with cirrhosis, but it does not impact short-term ACLF mortality. These findings have implications for clinicians caring for frail outpatients with cirrhosis, including tailored follow-up, risk mitigation strategies, and possible expedited transplant evaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute-On-Chronic Liver Failure* / diagnosis
  • Acute-On-Chronic Liver Failure* / epidemiology
  • Acute-On-Chronic Liver Failure* / therapy
  • Frailty* / complications
  • Frailty* / diagnosis
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies