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A Journal on Gastroenterology, Nutrition and Dietetics

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Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica 2009 March;55(1):71-8

language: English

Characteristics of liver diseases in the elderly: a review

Premoli A., Paschetta E., Hvalryg M., Spandre M., Bo S., Durazzo M.

Department of Internal Medicine University of Turin, Molinette Hospital, Turin, Italy


Chronic liver diseases are becoming more commonly diagnosed in the elderly, although they are not age-related. Most liver functions in advanced age appear to be well preserved, but some changes in liver morphology and physiology with aging may lead to several differences in clinical course and management of liver diseases in older patients compared to younger. A cautious individual evaluation is therefore required in aged patients, especially concerning reduced hepatic drug clearance and comorbidity. Many chronic liver diseases are characterized by a slow and indolent course with non-specific clinical presentation and this may lead a later diagnosis in the elderly. The presence of an advanced liver disease or cirrhosis is more frequent in old patients as the first clinical presentation. No significant differences in diagnostic investigations or treatment options occur between the elderly and the young. Hepatocellular carcinoma is an affliction of the old patients (mean age 65 age) and follow up with ultrasonography and alpha-fetoprotein is mandatory. Advanced age is not considered a contraindication to liver transplantation, but recipients older than 60 years with poor hepatic synthetic function and comorbidity show a worse prognosis with lower survival rates. This review focuses on new emerging conditions, clinical features and updated therapeutic approaches of the most common chronic liver diseases among the elderly.

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