Context: The long-term survival of patients with cirrhosis of the liver admitted to the ICU has not been described.
Objective: The main objectives were to determine the 1-year and 5-year mortality rates of a cohort of patients admitted to a medical ICU (MICU), and to identify the risk factors that may predict long-term outcomes.
Design: This is a cohort study. We used a model-building (MB) and model validation (MV) procedure that has previously been described to determine the risk factors for overall mortality.
Settings: An MICU in a major referral medical center.
Patients: Four hundred twenty consecutive patients admitted to the ICU from January 1, 1993, through October 31, 1998, met the inclusion criteria of diagnosis of liver failure, cirrhosis, chronic liver disease, variceal bleeding, hepatic encephalopathy, or hepatorenal syndrome. Patients with acute liver failure who had undergone liver transplantation, or candidates for orthotopic liver transplantation were excluded.
Results: The 1-year mortality rate was 69%, and the 5-year mortality rate was 77%. The median survival time was 1 month. The independent predictors of mortality in patients in the MB group who retained their significance in the MV group were as follows: an acute physiology, age, and chronic health evaluation (APACHE) III score of ≥ 90 (hazard ratio [HR], 2.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.6 to 2.8; p < 0.0001), the use of pressors (HR, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.9 to 3.2; p < 0.0001), and jaundice (HR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.4 to 2.2; p < 0.0001). Patients with all three risk factors (ie, APACHE III score ≥ 90, use of pressors, and jaundice) had a 92% 1-month mortality rate compared to 11.2% for patients with no risk factors.
Conclusions: Patients admitted to an MICU with underlying cirrhosis who are not eligible for liver transplantation have a poor long-term prognosis, even if they survive the ICU admission, particularly as the number of risk factors increases.