Underestimation of Liver Transplantation for Alcoholic Hepatitis in the National Transplant Database

Brian P. Lee, Gene Y. Im, John P. Rice, Ethan Weinberg, Christine Hsu, Oren K. Fix, George Therapondos, Hyosun Han, David W. Victor, Sheila Eswaran, Haripriya Maddur, Norah A. Terrault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) can be coded in United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) as either alcoholic cirrhosis or alcoholic hepatitis (AH), without having specific criteria to assign either diagnosis. In this multicenter American Consortium of Early Liver Transplantation for Alcoholic Hepatitis (ACCELERATE-AH) study, we sought to assess the concordance of the clinician diagnosis of AH at liver transplantation (LT) listing versus UNOS data entry of AH as listing diagnosis. In a prior study, consecutive early LT recipients transplanted for AH between 2012 and 2017 were identified by chart review at 10 ACCELERATE-AH sites. In this current study, these same LT recipients were identified in the UNOS database. The primary UNOS diagnostic code was evaluated for concordance with the chart-review assignment of AH. In cases where the primary listing diagnosis in UNOS was not AH, we determined the reason for alternate classification. Among 124 ACCELERATE-AH LT recipients with a chart-review diagnosis of AH, only 43/124 (35%) had AH as listing diagnosis in UNOS; 80 (64%) were listed as alcoholic cirrhosis, and 1 (1%) as fulminant hepatic necrosis. Of the 81 patients missing AH as a UNOS listing diagnosis code, the reasons for alternate classification were 44 (54%) due to a lack of awareness of a separate diagnosis code for AH; 13 (16%) due to concomitant clinical diagnosis of AH and alcoholic cirrhosis in the chart; 12 (15%) due to clinical uncertainty regarding the diagnosis of AH versus acute decompensated alcoholic cirrhosis; and 12 (15%) due to a data entry error. In conclusion, in a large cohort of LT recipients with AH, only 35% were documented as such in UNOS. Increased education and awareness for those performing UNOS data entry, the establishment of specific criteria to define AH in the UNOS database, and the ability to document dates of alcohol use would allow future research on ALD to be more informative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-711
Number of pages6
JournalLiver Transplantation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Hepatology
  • Transplantation


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