End-stage liver disease and its related complications exert a huge disease burden and reduce the survival rates of many patients. Albumin administration for patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis has been a controversial topic of discussion. The aim of this study is to investigate whether albumin reduces the mortality and complications of liver cirrhosis compared to standard medical therapy (SMT) alone.
Clinical trials in which albumin administration was compared to SMT in patients with liver cirrhosis were included in this meta-analysis. The primary outcome of this study was to evaluate the effect on reducing all-cause mortality. Ascites control, renal failure and hepatic encephalopathy were evaluated as secondary outcomes. Nine clinical trials with 1231 patients were recruited and analyzed using the quality effect model. Mortality rate was significantly reduced in the albumin group [relative risk (RR) 0.73, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.56-0.96]. Heterogeneity was mild across all studies (I 23.3%). Studies reporting long-term albumin (LTA) administration were found to have a significant decrease in mortality (RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.44-0.73). However, studies reporting short-term albumin administration were found to have no effect on mortality (RR 0.90, 95% CI 0.56-1.45). Furthermore, there was a significant decrease in the incidence of all secondary outcomes. This meta-analysis provides evidence that LTA administration is significantly effective in reducing the mortality of liver cirrhosis compared to SMT. Albumin administration was also shown to reduce the occurrence of ascites, renal failure and hepatic encephalopathy as complications of liver cirrhosis.