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Transplantation. 2016 Dec;100(12):2656-2660.

Performance-Based Measures Associate With Frailty in Patients With End-Stage Liver Disease.

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1 Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.2 Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, and Transplantation Institute, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda CA.3 Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.4 VA Ann Arbor Health Care System Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, Mobility Research Center, Ann Arbor, MI.



Physical frailty, as measured by the Fried Frailty Index, is increasingly recognized as a critical determinant of outcomes in patients with cirrhosis. However, its utility is limited by the inclusion of self-reported components. We aimed to identify performance-based measures associated with frailty in patients with cirrhosis.


Patients with cirrhosis, aged 50 years or older, underwent: 6-minute walk test (cardiopulmonary endurance), chair stands in 30 seconds (muscle endurance), isometric knee extension (lower extremity strength), unipedal stance time (static balance), and maximal step length (dynamic balance/coordination). Linear regression associated each physical performance test with frailty. Principal components exploratory factor analysis evaluated the interrelatedness of frailty and the 5 physical performance tests.


Of 40 patients with cirrhosis, with a median age of 64 years and Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) MELD of 12.10 (25%) were frail by Fried Frailty Index ≥3. Frail patients with cirrhosis had poorer performance in 6-minute walk test distance (231 vs 338 m), 30-second chair stands (7 vs 10), isometric knee extension (86 vs 122 Newton meters), and maximal step length (22 vs 27 in. (P ≤ 0.02 for each). Each physical performance test was significantly associated with frailty (P < 0.01), even after adjustment for MELD or hepatic encephalopathy. Principal component factor analysis demonstrated substantial, but unique, clustering of each physical performance test to a single factor-frailty.


Frailty in cirrhosis is a multidimensional construct that is distinct from liver dysfunction and incorporates endurance, strength, and balance. Our data provide specific targets for prehabilitation interventions aimed at reducing frailty in patients with cirrhosis in preparation for liver transplantation.

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