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The Challenges of Nutritional Assessment in Cirrhosis

Molfino, Alessio, Johnson, Sheeva, Medici, Valentina
Current nutrition reports 2017 v.6 no.3 pp. 274-280
algorithms, bioelectrical impedance, body composition, edema, hospitals, liver diseases, malnutrition, nutrient deficiencies, nutrition assessment, nutritional status, patients, prognosis, tomography, vertebrae
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Nutritional status in patients with cirrhosis is very frequently associated with macro- and micronutrient deficiencies. Cirrhosis itself is the cause of malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies but these conditions have to be identified and addressed properly as they can worsen the prognosis of cirrhosis. The goals of this review are to (1) identify and describe the challenges associated with nutritional assessment in cirrhosis and (2) describe recent advancements when using clinical, laboratory, and instrumental tools in the evaluation of malnourished patients with liver diseases. RECENT FINDINGS: The most promising tools for nutritional assessment in cirrhosis include the evaluation of body composition with phase angle obtained by bioelectrical impedance analysis, computed tomography transverse images at the level of third lumbar vertebra. The Royal Free Hospital global assessment algorithm appears to be helpful but needs further validation. Nutritional assessment in cirrhosis is challenging as several factors, including edema, can interfere with it and because of lack of a validated gold standard. Regardless, nutritional assessment methods have been developed in recent years and should gain relevance in the clinical practice.