Protein-calorie malnutrition, best measured by body cell mass (BCM) depletion, has been associated with adverse outcomes in patients with end-stage liver disease. We prospectively measured BCM and multiple standard nutritional parameters in patients with end-stage liver disease to determine which, if any, of the traditionally measured nutritional parameters correlate with BCM. A detailed nutritional assessment, including BCM analysis, subjective global assessment, anthropometry, handgrip dynamometry, laboratory tests, and body composition measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry was performed in 69 sequential patients awaiting liver transplantation. The frequency of abnormalities of specific parameters of nutritional status varied between 19% and 99%. Most of the commonly measured parameters of nutritional status correlated poorly with BCM. Patients with depleted BCM (lowest quartile for sex) had midarm circumference (P < .01), arm-muscle circumference (P < .001), handgrip strength (P < .001), blood urea nitrogen (P < .01), and creatinine (P < .01) values less than those for patients with greater BCM (highest 3 quartiles for sex). In multivariate analysis, arm-muscle circumference and handgrip strength were the best predictors of BCM. The combined criteria of handgrip strength less than 30 kg and arm-muscle circumference less than 23 cm have a sensitivity of 94% and a negative predictive value of 97% in identifying patients with depleted BCM. Although abnormalities of nutritional parameters are highly prevalent among patients with end-stage liver disease, most parameters of nutritional status do not correlate with BCM. In patients with end-stage liver disease, armmuscle circumference and handgrip strength are the most sensitive markers of BCM depletion.
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