The model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) was developed to predict short-term mortality in patients with cirrhosis. It has since become the standard tool to prioritize patients for liver transplantation. We assessed the value of pretransplant MELD in the prediction of posttransplant survival. We identified adult patients who underwent liver transplantation at our institution during 1991-2002. Among 2,009 recipients, 1,472 met the inclusion criteria. Based on pretransplant MELD scores, recipients were stratified as low risk (≤15), medium risk (16-25), and high risk (>25). The primary endpoints were patient and graft survival. Mean posttransplant follow-up was 5.5 years. One-, 5- and 10-year patient survival was 83%, 72%, and 58%, respectively, and graft survival was 76%, 65%, and 53%, respectively. In univariable analysis, patient and donor age, patient sex, MELD score, disease etiology, and retransplantation were associated with posttransplantation patient and graft survival. In multivariable analysis adjusted for year of transplantation, patient age >65 years, donor age >50 years, male sex, and retransplantation and pretransplant MELD scores >25 were associated with poor patient and graft survival. The impact of MELD score >25 was maximal during the first year posttransplant. In conclusion, older patient and donor age, male sex of recipient, retransplantation, and high pretransplant MELD score are associated with poor posttransplant outcome. Pretransplant MELD scores correlate inversely with posttransplant survival. However, better prognostic models are needed that would provide an overall assessment of transplant benefit relative to the severity of hepatic dysfunction.
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