CDTRP Research Innovation Grant awardee – Does a 4-week prehabilitation program improve frailty in patients with cirrhosis undergoing liver transplantation? (Amine Benmassaoud)

Through collaboration with partner organizations, CDTRP is pleased to offer our annual Research Innovation Grant competition to fund exciting new project ideas. Over the coming weeks, we will be profiling all of the projects funded in the 2021 competition.

Funded through a CDTRP Research Innovation Grant

Title: Does a 4-week prehabilitation program improve frailty in patients with cirrhosis undergoing liver transplantation? A feasibility trial

  • Principal investigator: Amine Benmassaoud
  • Main affiliation: McGill University
  • Part of Theme 5
Lay Abstract

Patients with cirrhosis undergoing liver transplantation are one of the sickest patient population. Due to their chronic liver disease, they develop low muscle mass, poor nutritional status and decreased reserves putting them at high risk of postoperative complications, prolonged hospital stay, and failed discharge home after liver transplantation. Even after surgery, the recovery process can be very long. Prehabilitation aims to optimize a patient before they undergo a major surgery. These programs combine exercise training, with nutritional optimization and psychological support. Together, these contribute to improve their muscle mass, tolerance to exercise, and nutritional status. Prehabilitation has been shown to help cancer patients better tolerate cancer related surgery by having less complications after surgery and benefit from a faster recovery. Such programs provide patients with a better position to successfully undergo major surgery. Unfortunately, at this moment, there is no strong evidence that such program would be beneficial for patients with liver disease awaiting liver transplantation. Given that these patients are very fragile, we suspect that a prehabilitation program would be beneficial. For these reasons, we wish to do a study to see whether an individualized and structured prehabilitation program benefits patients with advanced liver disease undergoing liver transplantation. Our team is composed of exercise specialists, nutritionists, clinical nurse specialists and liver transplant specialists. We hope to show that prehabilitation program improves preoperative patient-related outcomes, including muscle mass, exercise capacity, and nutritional status while simultaneously reducing postoperative complications and mortality after surgery in this vulnerable population.