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Rifaximin reduces the incidence of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, variceal bleeding and all-cause admissions in patients on the liver transplant waiting list

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-441
Number of pages7
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics
Issue number4
Early online date6 Jun 2019
Accepted/In press8 May 2019
E-pub ahead of print6 Jun 2019
Published31 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


King's Authors


BACKGROUND: Rifaximin reduces the risk of overt hepatic encephalopathy (HE) and is associated with significant reductions in hospitalisations and 30-day readmissions.

AIM: To examine the outcomes of patients listed for liver transplantation with a diagnosis of HE on rifaximin compared to those naïve to the drug.

METHODS: Patient records of those listed for liver transplantation over a 2-year period were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were included if they had at least two episodes of overt HE resulting in hospitalisation or were encephalopathic at the time of assessment.

RESULTS: Of the 622 patients listed for transplantation, 101 had HE. Sixty-six patients were treated with rifaximin and 35 were naïve at listing. The use of concurrent lactulose was not significantly different between groups. Median MELD score was similar (15 [14-16)] rifaximin-treated and 16 [14-18] rifaximin-naïve). Patients on the waiting list treated with rifaximin had reduced all-cause admissions, episodes of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis and variceal bleeding. Mean length of stay was 9 (95% CI 6-12) in the rifaximin-treated group vs 14 days (95% CI 7-21) in the rifaximin-naïve group. Multivariate regression analysis demonstrated that rifaximin was independently associated with an increase in average days to readmission (adjusted effect estimate 71, 95% CI 3-140 days) and reduced likelihood of requirement for prioritisation on the waiting list (odds ratio 0.29; 95% CI 0.89-0.93).

CONCLUSION: Rifaximin prescribed for HE in patients listed for liver transplantation improved outcomes with significant reduction in admissions related to spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, ascites and variceal bleeding.

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