Body Composition Post Pediatric Liver Transplant: Implications and Assessment

Alissa D. Perteet-Jackson, Carrie P. Earthman, Catherine M. Larson-Nath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Liver disease has a negative influence on growth and development of children. Measurement of body composition as a component of nutrition status assessment in children before and after transplant would facilitate tailoring of nutrition therapy. A comprehensive literature search on pediatric liver transplant and body composition assessment was performed using a modified systematic approach. This review includes evidence specific to body composition of children undergoing liver transplant and a discussion of relevant body composition assessment methods for this population. Malnutrition is commonly seen in children with liver disease prior to transplant because of the disrupted metabolic pathways from liver dysfunction; however, malnutrition is not consistently diagnosed. Within 1 year of transplant, children tend to quickly recover with weight gain and linear growth. In some children, obesity and sarcopenia have been observed as long-term posttransplant outcomes. Body composition assessment tools have been utilized in diagnosing nutrition status in adults; yet there are limited studies that use these tools in the pediatric liver-transplant population. Technologies available to assess body composition include air displacement plethysmography, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, bioimpedance, and ultrasound. Total body potassium has been used for body composition assessment in adults and children post liver transplant; however, this method is not applicable in a clinical setting. We conclude that understanding posttransplant body composition could help clinicians diagnose and treat malnutrition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1173-1184
Number of pages12
JournalNutrition in Clinical Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition


  • body composition
  • growth
  • liver transplant
  • malnutrition
  • nutrition status
  • pediatrics
  • weight gain


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