Background and aims Obesity is frequently associated with cirrhosis, and cirrhotic patients may develop simultaneous loss of skeletal muscle and gain of adipose tissue, culminating in the condition of sarcopenic obesity. Additionally, muscle depletion is characterized by both a reduction in muscle size and increased proportion of muscular fat, termed myosteatosis. In this study, we aimed to establish the frequency and clinical significance of sarcopenia, sarcopenic obesity and myosteatosis in cirrhotic patients.

Methods We analysed 678 patients with cirrhosis. Sarcopenia, sarcopenic obesity and myosteatosis were analysed by CT scan using the third lumbar vertebrae skeletal muscle and attenuation indexes, using previously validated gender-and body mass index-specific cutoffs.

Results Patients were predominately men (n = 457, 67%), and cirrhosis aetiology was hepatitis C virus in 269 patients (40%), alcohol in 153 (23%), non-alcoholic steatohepatitis/cryptogenic in 96 (14%), autoimmune liver disease in 55 (8%), hepatitis B virus in 43 (6%), and others in 5 patients (1%). Sarcopenia was present in 292 (43%), 135 had sarcopenic obesity (20%) and 353 had myosteatosis (52%). Patients with sarcopenia (22 ± 3 vs. 95 ± 22 months, P = 0.04) were associated with mortality.

Conclusions Sarcopenia, sarcopenic obesity and myosteatosis are often present in patients with cirrhosis, and sarcopenia and myosteatosis are independently associated with a higher long-term mortality in cirrhosis.

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Published in the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle, v. 7, no. 2, p. 126-135.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

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Funding Information

This study has been funded by a Clinical Research Award from the American College of Gastroenterology Institute 2011.