Factors associated with a positive phosphatidylethanol test during liver transplantation evaluation

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Clinical transplantation


BACKGROUND: Early identification of alcohol use is crucial for informing recommendations of appropriate follow-up treatment pre-liver transplant and optimizing post-liver transplant outcomes. The purpose of the study was to investigate whether there are psychosocial factors associated with a positive PEth test.

METHODS: All patients who underwent a routine pre-surgical psychological evaluation for liver transplant listing (all etiologies, including acute liver failure, dual organ, and re-transplantation) at a single health care system in 2020 were included in a retrospective chart review. Data extraction included results from PEth testing and information from the psychological evaluation (i.e., demographic, psychiatric symptoms, and cognitive functioning).

RESULTS: There were 158 patients (73.8%) who had a PEth test, of whom 21.5% had a positive result (n = 34). Younger age was associated with a positive PEth (p < .001). ALD status and type of ALD (hepatitis vs. cirrhosis) were also associated with a positive PEth test. Other demographic characteristics and psychiatric symptoms were not associated with a positive PEth result (p > .05).

CONCLUSION: Younger age was the only significant demographic variable associated with a positive PEth test. Given the difficulty of predicting who may be using alcohol, it may be useful to use PEth testing for all patients during the pre-liver transplant evaluation and while patients are listed for liver transplant. Early identification of alcohol use through routine PEth testing will help identify patients who are using alcohol and need further treatment for alcohol use to optimize health and post-transplant outcomes.

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ePub ahead of print

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