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Addiction. 2009 May;104(5):768-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02521.x. Epub 2009 Mar 13.

Alcohol-related cirrhosis--early abstinence is a key factor in prognosis, even in the most severe cases.

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1
Department of Histopathology, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, UK. clareverrill@hotmail.com

Abstract

AIMS:

To determine the effect of pathological severity of cirrhosis on survival in patients with alcohol-related cirrhosis.

DESIGN:

Liver biopsies from 100 patients were scored for Laennec score of severity of cirrhosis, and medical notes were reviewed to determine various clinical factors, including drinking status. Up-to-date mortality data were obtained using the National Health Service Strategic Tracing Service.

SETTING:

Southampton General Hospital between 1 January 1995 and 31 December 2000.

PARTICIPANTS:

A total of 100 consecutive patients with biopsy proven alcohol-induced liver cirrhosis.

MEASUREMENTS:

Laennec score of severity of cirrhosis and mortality.

FINDINGS:

Most surprisingly, the severity of cirrhosis on biopsy had little impact on survival; indeed, early death was more likely in patients with the least severe cirrhosis. Abstinence from alcohol at 1 month after diagnosis of cirrhosis was the more important factor determining survival with a 7-year survival of 72% for the abstinent patients versus 44% for the patients continuing to drink.

CONCLUSIONS:

It is never too late to stop drinking, even with the most severe degrees of cirrhosis on biopsy. Early drinking status is the most important factor determining long-term survival in alcohol-related cirrhosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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