Patients with liver cirrhosis show worse survival if decompensation occurs later during course of disease than at diagnosis

Emma Nilsson, Harald Anderson, Konstantina Sargenti, Stefan Lindgren, Hanne Prytz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Liver cirrhosis is characterized by a silent phase until decompensation, which is defined by onset of ascites, variceal bleeding, or encephalopathy. Although it is presumed that the survival of decompensated patients is the same regardless of when decompensation occurs, data to support this are scarce. We aimed to study the impact of time of decompensation on the clinical course and survival of patients with cirrhosis in a large population-based cohort. Materials and methods: We used medical registries to define a 10-year cohort of 1317 patients with incident liver cirrhosis in the Scania region of Sweden. Medical records were reviewed. Patients were followed until December 2011, and for death or transplantation until December 2014. Results: In the cohort, 629 patients were decompensated at diagnosis, of which 505 had ascites and 44 variceal bleeding only. During follow-up, 228 patients developed ascites and 39 variceal bleeding as first complication. Patients with ascites as first complication showed worse survival than patients who had ascites at diagnosis. (5-year survival 33% vs. 15%, HR 1.60 (95% CI 1.34–1.90)). This difference persisted after adjustment for confounders, including hepatocellular cancer (HR 1.38 (95% CI 1.15–1.67)). Worse survival was also seen when bleeding from varices occurred during follow-up rather than at diagnosis. Conclusions: Our results provide evidence for an association between transplantation-free survival after decompensation and the time of decompensation in liver cirrhosis, with worse survival when decompensation occurs during follow-up, thus challenging the generally held, view that the survival after decompensation is independent of when decompensation occurs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-481
JournalScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number4
Early online date2018 Mar 7
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Free keywords

  • ascites
  • Cirrhosis
  • decompensation
  • hepatic encephalopathy
  • hepatocellular cancer
  • liver
  • population-based cohort
  • prognosis
  • survival


Dive into the research topics of 'Patients with liver cirrhosis show worse survival if decompensation occurs later during course of disease than at diagnosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this