Background & Aims: Serum sodium (Na) concentrations have been suggested as a useful predictor of mortality in patients with end-stage liver disease awaiting liver transplantation. Methods: We evaluated methods to incorporate Na into model for end-stage liver disease (MELD), using a prospective, multicenter database specifically created for validation and refinement of MELD. Adult, primary liver transplant candidates with end-stage liver disease were enrolled. Results: Complete data were available in 753 patients, in whom the median MELD score was 10.8 and sodium was 137 mEq/L. Low Na (<130 mEq/L) was present in 8% of patients, of whom 90% had ascites. During the study period, 67 patients (9%) died, 243 (32%) underwent transplantation, 73 (10%) were withdrawn, and 370 were still waiting. MELD score and Na, at listing, were significant (both, P < .01) predictors of death within 6 months. After adjustment for MELD score and center, there was a linear increase in the risk of death as Na decreased between 135 and 120 mEq/L. A new score to incorporate Na into MELD was developed: "MELD-Na" = MELD + 1.59 (135 - Na) with maximum and minimum Na of 135 and 120 mEq/L, respectively. In this cohort, "MELD-Na" scores of 20, 30, and 40 were associated with 6%, 16%, and 37% of risk of death within 6 months of listing, respectively. If this new score were used to allocate grafts, it would affect 27% of the transplant recipients. Conclusions: We demonstrate an evidence-based method to incorporate Na into MELD, which provides more accurate survival prediction than MELD alone.
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