Home > Severe acute alcoholic hepatitis: an audit of medical treatment.

McCormick, PA and O'Keefe, C (2002) Severe acute alcoholic hepatitis: an audit of medical treatment. Irish Medical Journal , 95 , (4) , pp. 108-109.

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Despite advances in treatment, severe alcoholic hepatitis is still associated with a high mortality rate of 30% to 40%. Nutritional support and steroids in selected patients are believed to improve prognosis. In controlled trials steroids have been beneficial in patients with a discriminant function (DF) value >32 or spontaneous hepatic encephalopathy.

The aim of this study was to investigate current practice and outcomes in the treatment of acute alcoholic hepatitis. We retrospectively studied patients admitted to our unit with acute alcoholic hepatitis over a 4 year period. Forty-three patients with acute alcoholic hepatitis were admitted between 1994 and 1997. Overall mortality was 26% (11/43). Only 5 patients were treated with steroids of whom 1 died (mortality 20%). Liver biopsy was available in 19/43 of whom 12/19 (63%) had underlying cirrhosis in addition to alcoholic hepatitis. Mortality was higher in patients with a discriminant function of greater than 32 but not significantly so (32%: 8/25 vs 17%: 3/18 p = 0.31). A discriminant function of greater than 32 and contra-indications to steroid use was the best predictor of mortality (60% 6/10 P = 0.0096) compared to patients not fulfilling these criteria In this study overall mortality was comparable with published reports. Of interest was the relatively low liver biopsy rate and the fact that steroids were used in only a minority of eligible patients.

We found that mortality was concentrated in a subgroup of patients with a discriminant function value >32 and contra-indications to steroids. These criteria appear to identify a high-risk subgroup of patients. If confirmed, experimental treatments need to be targeted at this group to improve the overall prognosis of acute alcoholic hepatitis.

Item Type:Article
Page Range:pp. 108-109
Publisher:Irish Medical Organisation
Accession Number:HRB 4046 (Electronic Only)
Subjects:A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence > Problem substance use
G Health and disease > Digestive system disorder > Liver disorder > Alcoholic hepatitis
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Patient care management
P Demography, epidemiology, and history > Population dynamics > Substance related mortality / death
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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