The importance of addressing poor nutrition in patients with liver failure

October 26, 2017

Poor nutrition is common in patients with liver failure, or cirrhosis, and it can lead to muscle wasting, weakness, fatigue, and worse outcomes before and after patients undergo liver transplantation. A new review published in Liver Transplantation addresses aspects of nutrition in transplant candidates with cirrhosis and emphasizes the need to screen all patients to identify those with poor nutritional status, especially those suffering from muscle wasting.

"Muscle wasting is frequently overlooked in liver transplant candidates as nutritional assessment is not routinely carried out as part of clinical practice, and an accurate assessment can be complicated by obesity or fluid retention," said the review's senior author, Aldo J. Montano-Loza, MD, MSc, PhD, of the University of Alberta. "Muscle wasting is one of the major features of undernutrition in cirrhosis, and currently, high resolution image-based techniques such as computed tomography constitute the best way to evaluate body composition in these patients."

According to Dr. Montano-Loza and his colleagues, ensuring adequate caloric and protein intake forms the foundation of therapy for undernutrition in liver transplant candidates, and patients should avoid fasting for longer than six hours. Studies have demonstrated potential for additional therapies--such as consuming branched-chain amino acids or fish oil supplements and taking hormone replacement therapy; however, their potential benefits need to be confirmed in randomized controlled trials.

"Physical activity is also an important aspect of therapy," said Dr. Montano-Loza. "Therefore, supervised mobilization should be encouraged and physiotherapy should be consulted liberally when patients are in the hospital to minimize total bed rest and muscle atrophy."

He noted that for cirrhosis patients who do not have access to dieticians and exercise specialists, it's especially important that their clinicians are aware of guideline recommendations for both diet and physical activity.
-end-
Additional Information

Full Citation: "Nutrition and the Transplant Candidate." Vera Mazurak, Puneeta Tandon, and Aldo Montano-Loza. Liver Transplantation; Published Online: October 26, 2017 (DOI: 10.1002/lt.24848).

URL Upon Publication: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/lt.24848

Author Contact:

Ross Neitz
University of Alberta's Marketing & Communications Office
780-492-5986
rneitz@ualberta.ca

About the Journal

Liver Transplantation is published by Wiley on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the International Liver Transplantation Society. Since the first application of liver transplantation in a clinical situation was reported more than twenty years ago, there has been a great deal of growth in this field and more is anticipated. As an official publication of the AASLD and the ILTS, Liver Transplantation delivers current, peer-reviewed articles on surgical techniques, clinical investigations and drug research -- the information necessary to keep abreast of this evolving specialty. For more information, please visit http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/lt.

About Wiley

Wiley, a global research and learning company, helps people and organizations develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Our online scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, combined with our digital learning, assessment and certification solutions help universities, learned societies, businesses, governments and individuals increase the academic and professional impact of their work. For more than 210 years, we have delivered consistent performance to our stakeholders. The company's website can be accessed at http://www.wiley.com

Wiley

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