Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Clinical and Population Health Research



First Thesis Advisor

Adel Bozorgzadeh, MD, FACS

Second Thesis Advisor

Fred A. Anderson, PhD


Health Status, Liver Transplantation, Quality Improvement, Transplant Recipients, Sarcopenia, Survival Analysis, Patient Outcome Assessment, Waiting Lists


Dissertations, UMMS; Health Status; Liver Transplantation; Quality Improvement; Transplant Recipients; Sarcopenia; Survival Analysis; Patient Outcome Assessment; Waiting Lists


In recent years, the transplant community has explored and adopted tools for quantifying clinical insight into illness severity and frailty. This dissertation work explores the interplay between objective and subjective assessments of physical health status and the implications for liver transplant candidate and recipient outcomes. The first aim characterizes national epidemiologic trends and the impact of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid quality improvement policies on likelihood of waitlist removal based on the patient being too frail to benefit from liver transplant (“too sick to transplant”). This aim includes more than a decade (2002–2012) of comprehensive national transplant waitlist data (Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR)). The second aim will assess and define objective parameters of liver transplant patient frailty by measuring decline in lean core muscle mass (“sarcopenia”) using abdominal CT scans collected retrospectively at a single U.S. transplant center between 2006 and 2015. The relationship between these objective sarcopenia measures and subjective functional status assessed using the Karnofsky Functional Performance (KPS) scale are described and quantified. The third aim quantifies the extent to which poor functional status (KPS) pre-transplant is associated with worse post-transplant survival and includes national data on liver transplantations conducted between 2005 and 2014 (SRTR). The results of this dissertation will help providers in the assessment of frailty and subsequent risk of adverse outcomes and has implications for strategic clinical management in anticipation of surgery. This research will also to serve to inform national policy on the design of transplant center performance measures.



Rights and Permissions

Copyright is held by the author, with all rights reserved.