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Gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with cirrhosis: a longitudinal study before and after liver transplantation.

Journal article
Authors Evangelos Kalaitzakis
Axel Josefsson
Maria Castedal
Pia Henfridsson
Maria Bengtsson
Bengt Andersson
Einar Björnsson
Published in Scandinavian journal of gastroenterology
Volume 48
Issue 11
Pages 1308-1316
ISSN 1502-7708
Publication year 2013
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Surgery
Institute of Medicine
Pages 1308-1316
Language en
Subject categories Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Cancer and Oncology


Abstract Objective. Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are common in cirrhosis and have an impact on quality of life. Their pathophysiology and their relation to energy intake have not been fully elucidated and the effect of liver transplantation on GI symptoms has not been studied. We aimed to prospectively evaluate GI symptoms and their determinants before and after transplantation and their potential relation with energy intake in cirrhosis. Methods. A total of 108 cirrhotic liver transplant candidates completed the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale (GSRS) and the hospital anxiety and depression scale. Fasting serum glucose and insulin were measured in all patients. Serum thyrotropin, free T3/T4, cortisol, free testosterone, estradiol, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α were measured in a subgroup of 80 patients. Transplant recipients were followed for 1 year. A separate cohort of 40 cirrhotic patients underwent a high-caloric satiation drinking test (SDT). Results. GI symptoms were more severe in cirrhotics compared to controls from the general population. In regression analysis, the total GSRS score was independently related to lactulose, anxiety and low free testosterone (p < 0.05 for all). Four out of six GSRS domain scores improved significantly 1 year post-transplant (p < 0.05) but the total GSRS score remained higher compared to controls. GI symptoms predicted ingestion of fewer calories at SDT compared to other patients and controls (p < 0.05). Conclusions. Psychological distress, lactulose treatment and low testosterone are predictors of GI symptoms which are common among cirrhotic transplant candidates. They are also associated with decreased energy intake as measured by a SDT. GI symptoms remain of concern post-transplant.

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