The MELD score

The Model for End-Stage Liver Disease, or MELD score, is used to prioritize adult patients for liver transplants. It’s a severity index that indicates mortality risk and case urgency. It determines how soon a person will need a liver transplant.

You must have a MELD score to be put on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) transplant list

The MELD score is calculated with a mathematical formula using three lab results:

  • total bilirubin
  • International Normalized Ratio (INR)
  • creatinine

The 4 MELD levels are

  • greater than or equal to 25 (gravely ill)
  • 24 to 19
  • 18 to 11
  • less than or equal to 10 (less ill)

Patients with end-stage liver disease are tested on a continuing basis:

  • greater than or equal to 25: lab reports every 7 days
  • 24 to 19: lab reports every 30 days
  • 18 to 11: lab reports every 90 days
  • 10 or fewer (less ill): lab reports every year

As the MELD score increases, the patient moves up the transplant list.

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