Etiologies and outcomes of cirrhosis in a large contemporary cohort

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2021 Jun;56(6):727-732. doi: 10.1080/00365521.2021.1912167. Epub 2021 Apr 19.


Background and aims: Patients with liver cirrhosis have high mortality, often estimated by the Child-Pugh or MELD scores. Etiologies of cirrhosis are rapidly shifting, and it is unclear if these scores perform similarly across subgroups of patients. Here, we describe the characteristics and outcomes of a large contemporary cohort of patients with cirrhosis.

Methods: This was a cohort study with retrospectively collected data. All patients with a verified diagnosis of cirrhosis during 2004-2017 at the Karolinska University Hospital, Sweden, were identified. Data at baseline to calculate Child-Pugh, MELD and confounders for mortality was collected. Competing risk regression was used to estimate risk for outcomes, adjusted for age, sex, baseline Child-Pugh score, etiology of cirrhosis and type 2 diabetes.

Results: We identified 2609 patients, with a median age of 61 years, and 68% men. Etiologies of cirrhosis shifted during the study period, with a -29% relative decrease in hepatitis C-cirrhosis and a + 154% increase in cirrhosis due to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The highest overall mortality was seen in patients with alcohol-related cirrhosis. MELD and Child-Pugh scores predicted 3-month and 1 to 2-year mortality reasonably well, but with a lower predictive performance in alcohol-related cirrhosis. Men were more likely than women to receive a liver transplant (sHR = 1.39, 95%CI = 1.08-1.78).

Conclusions: We confirm previous findings of a rapid shift in the etiologies of cirrhosis. Differences in sex in regard to access to liver transplantation deserve further attention.

Keywords: NAFLD; epidemiology; mortality; sex differences.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / etiology
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index