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Alcohol relapse and its predictors after liver transplantation for alcoholic liver disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Chuncharunee, Lancharat
  • Yamashiki, Noriyo
  • Thakkinstian, Ammarin
  • Sobhonslidsuk, Abhasnee
Published Article
BMC Gastroenterology
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Aug 22, 2019
DOI: 10.1186/s12876-019-1050-9
Springer Nature


BackgroundAlcoholic liver disease (ALD) is the leading cause of liver transplantation (LT). The magnitude and risk factors of post-LT alcohol relapse are not well described. We conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate alcohol relapse rate and its predictors after LT.MethodsSearches of MEDLINE and SCOPUS identified eligible published studies of alcohol relapse after LT published up to 31 March 2018. Alcohol relapse was defined as any alcohol consumption post-LT, and heavy alcohol relapse was defined as a relapse of alcohol consumption that was associated with a significant harm. Data for the proportion of alcohol relapse was pooled using a meta-analysis for pooling proportion. An odds ratio (OR) of the predictor of alcohol relapse was extracted and pooled using meta-analysis for the pooling risk factor. Data were analyzed using a random effect model if heterogeneity was presented; otherwise, a fixed effect model was applied. The study was registered at PROSPERO (CRD42017052659).ResultsNinety-two studies with over 8000 cases were recruited for pooling proportion of alcohol relapse. The alcohol relapse rate and heavy alcohol relapse rate after LT during the mean follow-up time of 48.4 ± 24.7 months were 22% (95% confidence interval (CI): 19–25%) and 14% (95%CI: 12–16%). Psychiatric comorbidities (odds ratio (OR) 3.46, 95%CI: 1.87–6.39), pre-transplant abstinence of less than 6 months (OR 2.76, 95%CI: 2.10–3.61), unmarried status (OR 1.84, 95%CI: 1.39–2.43), and smoking (OR 1.72, 95%CI: 1.21–2.46) were associated with alcohol relapse after LT. However, we noticed publication bias of unpublished negative studies and high heterogeneity of results.ConclusionsPost-transplant alcohol relapse occurred in about one-fifth of patients who underwent alcohol-related LT. Psychiatric comorbidities represented the strongest predictor of alcohol relapse. Psychiatric comorbidities monitoring and pre-LT alcohol abstinence for at least 6 months may decrease alcohol relapse after LT.

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