MELD Score (Model For End-Stage Liver Disease) (12 and older)
Use in patients ≥12 years old. Note: As of January 2016, calculation of the MELD has changed. It now includes serum sodium level. See OPTN's announcement.
- Primarily used to stratify patients ≥12 years old on liver transplant waiting lists.
- Predicts mortality in the following scenarios: (a) after transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS), (b) cirrhotic patients undergoing non-transplantation surgical procedures, (c) acute alcoholic hepatitis, and (d) acute variceal hemorrhage.
- The MELD Score predicts three-month survival in patients (age 12+) with liver cirrhosis.
- Scores range from 6 to 40, with higher scores correlating with increased severity of liver dysfunction and higher three-month mortality.
- The MELD was updated in January 2016 and now includes serum sodium level.
- It is preferable to using the calculator to calculate the MELD as there are several caveats relating to minimum and maximum values assigned in the MELD.
- Values should be no more than 48 hours old.
- MELD can be used on any patient with end stage liver disease irrespective of cirrhosis etiology.
- Currently, there is no modification in the score for patients on anticoagulation (given their INR may be elevated).
- Several conditions are “standard MELD exceptions” and receive a different score (see Next Steps > Critical Actions): hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatopulmonary syndrome, portopulmonary hypertension, familial amyloid polyneuropathy, primary hyperoxaluria, cystic fibrosis, hilar cholangiocarcinoma and hepatic artery thrombosis.
- One of the exclusion criteria for the original data set was absence of acute reversible conditions such as spontaneous bacterial peritonitis or prerenal azotemia secondary to dehydration. Therefore, in principle, the score should only be applied after these reversible conditions have been treated, according to the authors (Kamath 2007).
- In February 2002, MELD was accepted by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) for prioritization of patients awaiting for liver transplantation in the United States, replacing the Child-Pugh Score.
- It has been widely studied and validated.
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- Consider referral to hepatologist or liver transplant center for patients with MELD Score ≥10.
- MELD Score should be periodically re-assessed, as it changes with changing lab values.
- All cirrhosis patients should be periodically screened for hepatocellular carcinoma with serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and by appropriate imaging to see if they can earn “standard MELD exceptions”.
Standard MELD Exceptions
The following conditions are automatically assigned a MELD Score of 22 (28 in case of hyperoxaluria), with a 10% increase in score every 3 months from diagnosis.
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with one lesion between 2 - 5 cm or two to three lesions <3 cm (Milan criteria), provided no vascular invasion or extrahepatic disease.
- Hepatopulmonary syndrome with PaO2 <60 mmHg on room air.
- Portopulmonary hypertension, with mean pulmonary artery pressure (mPAP) >25 mmHg at rest but maintained <35 mmHg with treatment.
- Hepatic artery thrombosis 7–14 days post-liver transplantation.
- Familial amyloid polyneuropathy, as diagnosed by identification of the transthyretin (TTR) gene mutation by DNA analysis or mass spectrometry in a biopsy sample and confirmation of amyloid deposition in an involved organ.
- Primary hyperoxaluria with evidence of alanine glyoxylate aminotransferase deficiency (these patients requires combined liver-kidney transplantation).
- Cystic fibrosis with FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in 1 second) <40%.
- Hilar cholangiocarcinoma.
- Pranav Patel, MD