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What is the MELD Score for Liver Transplant? | Liver Helpline India

November 24, 2023

Liver transplant surgery is an essential treatment for patients fighting liver cancer, liver failure, or any life-threatening liver disease that cannot be handled with medications. In this surgery, a small portion, or the entire liver is replaced with a healthy liver.

As the liver is responsible for digesting food and generating energy, its ailment can lead to malfunctioning in the body.

In fact, chronic diseases of the liver will lead to surgical procedures.

When it comes to identifying the severity level of your liver disease, the MELD score is the most essential factor to consider.

What is the MELD Score?

meld score



Stated as the Model for End-stage liver disease, the MELD score is a way to measure the seriousness of the liver disease that requires a liver transplant surgery.

It is a specialized number that ranges from 6 to 40. This means that higher a MELD score will signify the disease as serious, which will identify the urgency of a liver transplant surgery.

The patients having a higher MELD score will be given preference for surgery than the ones with a lesser score.

There are certain reasons that call for liver transplant surgery, which include Hepatitis B, alcohol consumption, hemochromatosis, biliary cirrhosis, cholangitis, and Biliary Artesia.  

The score is based on various laboratory tests. These may include checking Creatinine level, Bilirubin, International Normalized Ratio, and Serum Sodium Level.

With these requirements, the medical authorities decide the urgency of the case. It is obvious that an urgent liver transplant case is further proceeded with tests of the donor. The reason is that the donor’s liver needs to match with the receiver for a successful surgery.

In fact, the MELD score helps in managing the transplant treatment allocation policy. Before the MELD score, the urgency of the case depended on hospitalization, laboratory tests, and position on the waiting list.

History of the MELD Score:

meld score history

Initially developed in 2001, the MELD score was intended to check the survival rates in cirrhotic patients. These patients undergo trans-jugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt. Further, it was used to foresee the severity level of the disease with previously noted survival possibilities more accurately.

Its impartiality and enhanced accuracy enabled UNOS to approve this score for allocating the transplant on a priority basis. The purpose of doing so is to reduce the waiting time for the patients, who require urgent surgeries.

Since its inception, the MELD score has undergone various improvements from becoming a standard benchmark for liver transplant surgery allocation to predicting the mortality rate and highlighting prioritization, it has undergone several improvements.

In 2016, sodium levels were created to assist in predicting waitlist mortality, and this factor was added to the functional capability of the MELD score. Moreover, the year 2023 is set to witness MELD 3.0 (New Version), which tends to integrate new variables for improving accuracy and addressing gender-based discrepancies in scores.

Increasing Need for the MELD Score:

month wise meld score

As we all know, liver cancer, cirrhosis, or acute liver failure are some of the ailments that need immediate transplants.

The MELD score is meant to identify the level of severity in the patient. This test alone does not certify the urgency. Rather, other laboratory tests are accompanied to initiate the treatment requirements.

With so many patients on the waiting list, these scores and tests will allow you to start the procedure and save lives. But, there are certain examples where a few patients have died before getting treatment because of the long waiting list.

This is the reason that the MELD score is gaining popularity for defining the essential need for surgery or liver transplant.


Liver disease is one of the most dreadful ailments, which requires immediate transplants. In order to define the urgency and severity level, the MELD score was developed in 2001.

It is very effective in measuring the level of liver disease and predicting mortality rate. Based on the MELD score and laboratory tests, the patients are put on the national waiting list to get the treatment.

The best part of using the MELD score is that it has reduced the waiting list so that patients can get timely treatment.

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