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Liver Int. 2014 Mar;34(3):469-76. doi: 10.1111/liv.12243. Epub 2013 Jul 7.

Determination of ethyl glucuronide in hair improves evaluation of long-term alcohol abstention in liver transplant candidates.

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Department of Hepatobiliary and Transplant Surgery, University Medical Center Hamburg - Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.



Prior to listing patients for Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) an abstention period of 6 months is required. Ethyl glucuronide in the hair is a new reliable marker for the assessment of alcohol consumption. Here, the diagnostic value of determining the ethyl glucuronide concentration in the hair of liver transplant candidates was evaluated.


In 63 transplant candidates with alcoholic liver cirrhosis and 25 control patients with cirrhosis of other aetiologies alcohol markers, i.e. hEtG, urine EtG, blood ethanol, methanol and carbohydrate deficient transferrin were determined in parallel to an interview with a psychologist.


A total of 19 (30%) transplant candidates admitted alcohol consumption within the last 6 months, while 39/63 (62%) were positive for at least one alcohol marker. In 52% of the 44 candidates denying alcohol consumption, abstention was disproved by detecting at least one positive alcohol marker, in 83% of cases by a positive hEtG result. In the control patients stating abstention from alcohol all hEtG tests were negative. No impact of renal or liver function on hEtG results was detected. A specificity of 98% and a positive predictive value of 92% were calculated for testing hEtG in proximal hair segment and applying a cut-off of 30 pg/mg.


In 52% of patients denying alcohol consumption within the last 6 months, alcohol abstention was disproved, in 83% of cases by hEtG testing. Therefore, hEtG is a promising new marker for the evaluation of long-term alcohol abstention in liver transplant candidates.


alcoholic liver disease; cirrhosis; hair ethyl glucuronide; liver transplantation; urine ethyl glucuronide

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