Use of Over-the-Counter Analgesics Is Not Associated With Acute Decompensation in Patients With Cirrhosis

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Background & Aims: Over-the-counter analgesics have been proposed to lead to decompensation of compensated cirrhosis or to further decompensation of an already decompensated patient. We performed a prospective, case-control study to investigate the effects of analgesics on acute hepatic decompensation. Methods: Data from consecutive cirrhotic patients hospitalized at 2 tertiary care hospitals for decompensation of cirrhosis (cases, n = 91) were compared with that from consecutive patients with compensated cirrhosis that were followed in the liver clinic (n = 153) and with randomly selected noncirrhotic patients concurrently hospitalized with the cases (n = 89). All patients were given a structured questionnaire to collect information on recent use of acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and alcohol. Results: Only 32 (35%) of the cirrhotic patients used over-the-counter analgesics (19% acetaminophen, 16% nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), compared with 80 of the cirrhotic controls (52%; 25% acetaminophen, 31% nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and 62 (70%) of the noncirrhotic controls. Acetaminophen use did not differ between groups, even for those with recent alcohol use. The doses and days of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use were higher among cirrhotic patients, compared with controls. Alcohol ingestion was significantly greater among patients with alcoholic cirrhosis, compared with controls. Conclusions: In patients with cirrhosis, acetaminophen use at doses lower than those recommended is not associated with acute hepatic decompensation, even in patients with recent alcohol ingestion. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs might be associated with deleterious effects on cirrhosis. Alcohol ingestion is associated with decompensation in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis. © 2009 AGA Institute.




Khalid, S. K., Lane, J., Navarro, V., & Garcia-Tsao, G. (2009). Use of Over-the-Counter Analgesics Is Not Associated With Acute Decompensation in Patients With Cirrhosis. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 7(9), 994–999.

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