Int J Clin Pract. 2021 May 16:e14362. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.14362. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Relative adrenal insufficiency (RAI) is frequently found in patients with liver cirrhosis, especially in critically ill conditions. However, the prognostic impact of RAI in non-critically ill cirrhosis remains controversial. The aim of the present study was to assess the prevalence of RAI and its prognostic implication in non-critically ill cirrhotic patients.
METHODS: From December 2015 to November 2017, hospitalised non-critically ill cirrhotic patients admitted with hepatic decompensation were prospectively enrolled in this study. Within 24 hours after admission, 250 mcg ACTH stimulation test was performed. RAI was defined as an increase in serum cortisol <9 mcg/dL in patients with basal serum cortisol <35 mcg/dL. Clinical outcomes were evaluated during admission and at 30-, 90-day visits.
RESULTS: One hundred and fifteen patients were included (66% male, mean age 59.9 ± 16 years, mean MELD 16.1 ± 6.8, Child A/B/C 15.7%/53.9%/30.4%). The main indications for admission were bacterial infection (44.6%) and portal hypertension-related bleeding (19.1%). RAI was detected in 35 patients (30.4%). Patients with RAI had higher Child-Pugh score (9.4 ± 1.9 vs 8.0 ± 1.7, P < .01), and MELD scores (18.3 ± 5.9 vs 15.1 ± 6.9, P = .02). The in-hospital, 30-, and 90-day mortality rates were 9.6%, 20.9%, and 26.1%, respectively. There was no significant difference in the incidence of nosocomial infection, severe sepsis, septic shock, HRS, and mortality rates between patients with and without RAI. By multivariate analysis, bacterial infection on admission (HR 3.13, P < .01) and acute-on-chronic liver failure (HR 4.98, P < .001) were independent predictors of 90-day survival.
CONCLUSIONS: RAI is found in about one-third of hospitalised non-critically ill cirrhotic patients and is associated with the severity of cirrhosis. However, the presence of RAI has no influence on short-term outcomes.