Introduction: Hyponatremia is a marker of poor prognosis in patients with cirrhosis. This analysis aimed to assess if hyponatremia also has prognostic value in patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF), a syndrome characterized by acute decompensation of cirrhosis, organ failure(s) and high short-term mortality.
Methods: We performed an analysis of the Chronic Liver Failure Consortium CANONIC database in 1341 consecutive patients admitted to 29 European centers with acute decompensation of cirrhosis (including ascites, gastrointestinal bleeding, hepatic encephalopathy, or bacterial infections, or any combination of these), both with and without associated ACLF (301 and 1040 respectively).
Results: Of the 301 patients with ACLF, 24.3% had hyponatremia at inclusion compared to 12.3% of 1040 patients without ACLF (P <0.001). Model for end-stage liver disease, Child-Pugh and Chronic Liver Failure-SOFA scores were significantly higher in patients with acute on chronic liver failure and hyponatremia compared to those without hyponatremia. The presence of hyponatremia (at inclusion or during hospitalization) was a predictive factor of survival both in patients with and without ACLF. The presence of hyponatremia and ACLF were found to have an independent effect on 90-day survival after adjusting for the potential confounders. Hyponatremia in non-ACLF patients nearly doubled the risk (hazard ratio (HR) 1.81 (1.33 to 2.47)) of dying at 90 days. However, when considering patients with both factors (ACLF and hyponatremia) the relative risk of dying at 90 days was significantly higher (HR 6.85 (3.85 to 12.19) than for patients without both factors. Patients with hyponatremia and ACLF had a 3-month transplant-free survival of only 35.8% compared to 58.7% in those with ACLF without hyponatremia (P <0.001).
Conclusions: The presence of hyponatremia is an independent predictive factor of survival in patients ACLF. In cirrhosis, outcome of patients with ACLF is dependent on its association with hyponatremia.