Study identifies factors which predict alcohol use after liver transplantation

Aug 19, 2010

Patients who receive a liver transplant due to alcoholic liver disease need to demonstrate periods of abstinence and often attend addiction treatment before transplantation. However, alcohol use disorders can recur, as can other diseases requiring transplantation, and thus alcohol use after liver transplantation is not uncommon. A new study published today in the American Journal of Transplantation reveals that those at highest risk to drink alcohol post transplant, especially in patterns that will damage their health, can be identified potentially preventing relapse.

Researchers led by Andrea DiMartini, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, collected data on following liver transplantation for alcoholic liver disease in 208 patients transplanted between May 1998 to August 2004.

Alcohol relapse rates following are low, especially when compared to the general population. Of the 208 patients, 54% had no reported alcohol use post surgery.

However, among the remaining patients who did drink alcohol again, certain patterns emerged. Two patterns show early onset of alcohol use, one moderate and one accelerating to heavy use. These patterns show that for some patients, resumption occurs early following transplantation and recipients can quickly lose control over their drinking. For others, moderate to heavy alcohol use can begin years post surgery, showing that clinical monitoring for alcohol use should extend well beyond the first one to two years post-LTX.

The researchers found that the length of sobriety prior to surgery is the most powerful predictor of return to alcohol use, e.g. shorter sobriety conferring higher risk. Additionally, stresses immediately following surgery would increase the risk of alcohol use. Those more likely to drink were experiencing more problems overall, were more stressed, reported worse health, and had more pain and less energy.

"Our findings will aid clinicians in early monitoring and identification of patients at risk for alcohol use," DiMartini notes. "With improved methods to identify those at high risk, and effective treatments for alcohol use disorders, we can keep the relapse rates low and get patients into proper treatment before they injure their health."

Explore further: Can YouTube save your life?

More information: A. DiMartini, M.A. Dew, N. Day, M.G. Fitzgerald, B.L. Jones, M.E. deVera, and P. Fontes. Trajectories of Alcohol Consumption Following Liver Transplantation. American Journal of Transplantation 2010; 10: 1-8. DOI:10.1111/j.1600-6143.2010.03232.x

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mayo Clinic seeks new therapies for alcoholic hepatitis

Dec 01, 2008

A new study from Mayo Clinic finds the use of the drug therapy etanercept ineffective in treating alcoholic hepatitis, an acute inflammation of the liver caused by excessive consumption of alcohol. The results of the study ...

Adult liver transplant eligibility criteria

Oct 22, 2008

The pain is debilitating. The only option: smoking medical marijuana. That's the reality for many hepatitis C patients whose road to health includes a liver transplant. Although Canadian transplant centres are more willing ...

Recommended for you

Can YouTube save your life?

11 hours ago

Only a handful of CPR and basic life support (BLS) videos available on YouTube provide instructions which are consistent with recent health guidelines, according to a new study published in Emergency Medicine Australasia, the jo ...

Doctors frequently experience ethical dilemmas

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For physicians trying to balance various financial and time pressures, ethical dilemmas are common, according to an article published Aug. 7 in Medical Economics.

AMGA: Physician turnover still high in 2013

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For the second year running, physician turnover remains at the highest rate since 2005, according to a report published by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA).

Obese or overweight teens more likely to become smokers

12 hours ago

A study examining whether overweight or obese teens are at higher risk for substance abuse finds both good and bad news: weight status has no correlation with alcohol or marijuana use but is linked to regular ...

Taking preventive health care into community spaces

13 hours ago

A church. A city park. An office. These are not the typical settings for a medical checkup. But a new nationwide study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research shows that providing health services in ...

User comments : 0