OBJECTIVE: It has recently been suggested that the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) is a better and a more objective predictor of mortality in patients with end-stage liver disease. The aim of our study was to determine the relationship of the MELD score to hepatic encephalopathy (HE), as determined by electroencephalography (EEG) and clinical and neuropsychometric examination, and ascites. METHODS: A total of 66 patients underwent EEG, a neuropsychometric screening by Mini-Mental State Examination, Trails Making Tests, Rey-Osterreith Complex Figure, and Hopkins Verbal Leaming Tests, and a clinical assessment for HE. The MELD score was calculated as previously described by using serum creatinine, bilirubin, and international normalized ratio. Subclinical HE was diagnosed if clinical examination did not detect HE but neuropsychometric tests and EEG were abnormal. RESULTS: Sixteen patients had no HE, 28 had subclinical HE, and 22 had clinical HE. Age, sex, race, and cause of liver disease were similar in all three groups. Child-Turcotte-Pugh score was significantly higher in patients with clinical HE compared with the other two groups. There was only a modest correlation (r = 0.5) between Child-TurcottePugh and the MELD scores. The distribution and mean MELD scores were similar in patients with or without HE as determined by clinical or neuropsychometric examination and EEG. Approximately 90% of patients with clinical HE or abnormal EEG and neuropsychometric tests had a MELD score less than 25. Similarly, the MELD score was not affected by the severity of ascites. CONCLUSION: The MELD score does not correlate well with severity of HE or ascites. Patients with HE and ascites might not receive liver transplantation in a timely manner if MELD scores were to be used exclusively for organ allocation.
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