Regional Variation in Appropriateness of Non-Hepatocellular Carcinoma Model for End-Stage Liver Disease Exception

Robert M. Cannon, Eric G. Davis, David S. Goldberg, Raymond J. Lynch, Malay B. Shah, Jayme E. Locke, Kelly M. McMasters, Christopher M. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Patients thought to be at greater risk of liver waitlist dropout than their laboratory Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (lMELD) score reflects are commonly given MELD exceptions, where a higher allocation MELD (aMELD) score is assigned that is thought to reflect the patient's risk. This study was undertaken to determine whether exceptions for reasons other than hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are justified, and whether exception aMELD scores appropriately estimate risk. Methods: Adult primary liver transplantation candidates listed in the current era of liver allocation in the United Network for Organ Sharing database were analyzed. Patients granted non-HCC-related MELD exceptions and those without MELD exceptions were compared. Rates of waitlist dropout and liver transplantation were analyzed using cause-specific hazards regression, with separate models fitted to adjust for lMELD and aMELD. Results: There were 29,243 patients, with 2,555 in the exception group. Nationally, exception patients were more likely to dropout (hazard ratio [HR] 1.60; 95% CI, 1.45 to 1.76; p < 0.001) or undergo liver transplantation (HR 3.49; 95% CI, 3.32 to 3.67; p < 0.001) than their lMELD-adjusted counterparts. Adjusting for aMELD, exception patients were less likely to dropout (HR 0.77; 95% CI, 0.70 to 0.85; p < 0.001) and less likely to undergo liver transplantation (HR 0.76; 95% CI, 0.72 to 0.80; p < 0.001). Exception patients were not at significantly increased risk of waitlist dropout when adjusted for lMELD in 4 of 11 United Network for Organ Sharing regions. Conclusions: Despite appropriate use of non-HCC MELD exceptions on a national level, patients with non-HCC MELD exceptions were awarded inappropriately high priority for transplantation in many regions. This highlights the need to consider local conditions faced by transplantation candidates when estimating waitlist mortality and determining priority for transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-512.e8
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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