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Understanding the Child-Pugh Score: A Vital Tool in Managing Chronic Liver Disease

Updated: Jun 15

The Child-Pugh score components, scoring system, and implications:


1 Point

2 Points

3 Points

Total Bilirubin

< 2 mg/dL

2-3 mg/dL

> 3 mg/dL

Serum Albumin

> 3.5 g/dL

2.8-3.5 g/dL

< 2.8 g/dL

Prothrombin Time (INR)

< 4 sec prolongation (INR < 1.7)

4-6 sec prolongation (INR 1.7-2.3)

> 6 sec prolongation (INR > 2.3)



Mild (diuretic-responsive)

Moderate to Severe (diuretic-refractory)

Hepatic Encephalopathy


Grade I-II (or suppressed with medication)

Grade III-IV (or refractory)

Child-Pugh Score Classification

Total Score



Clinical Implications



Mild liver disease

Good prognosis; symptom management and preventive care



Moderate liver disease

Moderate prognosis; requires closer monitoring and more intensive treatment



Severe liver disease

Poor prognosis; intensive management and evaluation for liver transplantation


  • Class A (5-6 points):

    • Mild liver disease

    • Good prognosis

    • Treatment: Symptom management and preventive care

  • Class B (7-9 points):

    • Moderate liver disease

    • Moderate prognosis

    • Treatment: Closer monitoring, more aggressive symptom and complication management, possible liver transplantation consideration

  • Class C (10-15 points):

    • Severe liver disease

    • Poor prognosis

    • Treatment: Intensive management, high priority for liver transplantation evaluation

This table serves as a quick reference guide for healthcare professionals to assess the Child-Pugh score, understand its implications, and make informed clinical decisions for managing patients with chronic liver disease.


Chronic liver disease, particularly cirrhosis, is a significant health concern worldwide, requiring careful management and monitoring. One of the most crucial tools in a clinician's arsenal for assessing the prognosis and guiding treatment for these patients is the Child-Pugh score. This blog aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the Child-Pugh score, its components, and its clinical implications, enhancing the ability of medical professionals to utilize this tool effectively in practice.


The Child-Pugh scoring system (also known as the Child-Pugh-Turcotte score) was designed to predict mortality in cirrhosis patients. Originally conceptualized by Child and Turcotte in 1964, it aimed to guide the selection of patients who would benefit from elective surgery for portal decompression. The original scoring system used five clinical and laboratory criteria: serum bilirubin, serum albumin, ascites, neurological disorder, and clinical nutrition status. Later, Pugh et al. modified the system by replacing clinical nutrition status with prothrombin time and introducing variable points based on the severity of each criterion.

Child-Pugh Score Parameters

1. Albumin

  • Scoring:

    • 3.5 g/dL: 1 point

    • 2.8-3.5 g/dL: 2 points

    • <2.8 g/dL: 3 points

  • Diagnosis:

    • Lab Test: Serum albumin levels.

    • Interpretation: Lower levels indicate reduced liver synthetic function.

2. Bilirubin

  • Scoring:

    • <2 mg/dL: 1 point

    • 2-3 mg/dL: 2 points

    • 3 mg/dL: 3 points

  • Diagnosis:

    • Lab Test: Total bilirubin levels.

    • Interpretation: Elevated levels indicate impaired liver function and bile flow.

3. Coagulopathy (Prothrombin Time/INR)

  • Scoring:

    • PT <4 seconds prolonged or INR <1.7: 1 point

    • PT 4-6 seconds prolonged or INR 1.7-2.3: 2 points

    • PT >6 seconds prolonged or INR >2.3: 3 points

  • Diagnosis:

    • Lab Test: Prothrombin time (PT) and International Normalized Ratio (INR).

    • Interpretation: Prolonged PT or elevated INR indicates reduced clotting factor production.

4. Distension (Ascites)

  • Scoring:

    • None: 1 point

    • Mild (controlled medically): 2 points

    • Moderate to severe (refractory): 3 points

  • Diagnosis:

    • Physical Exam: Abdominal distension, shifting dullness, fluid wave test.

    • Imaging: Ultrasound or CT scan for confirmation.

5. Encephalopathy

  • Scoring:

    • None: 1 point

    • Grade I-II (or precipitant-induced): 2 points

    • Grade III-IV (or chronic): 3 points

  • Diagnosis:

    • Clinical Assessment: Mental status changes from mild confusion (Grade I) to coma (Grade IV).

  • Tests: Ammonia levels (though not always correlated with severity).

Child-Pugh Score Classification

  • Child-Pugh A (well-compensated disease): 5-6 points

    • Patients are generally considered safe for elective surgery (10% postoperative mortality).

  • Child-Pugh B (significant functional compromise): 7-9 points

    • Patients can proceed with surgery after medical optimization (30% postoperative mortality).

  • Child-Pugh C (decompensated disease): 10-15 points

    • Elective surgery is contraindicated (70-80% postoperative mortality).

Issues of Concern

The Child-Pugh classification has limitations:

  • Subjective Assessment: Grading ascites and encephalopathy can be subjective.

  • Lack of Renal Function: Does not account for renal function.

  • Limited Score Range: Only ten different scores, limiting differentiation based on disease severity.

To address these limitations, the MELD score was developed. It uses more continuous variables (bilirubin, creatinine, INR, serum sodium) for a broader and more precise assessment of liver disease severity.

Clinical Significance

The Child-Pugh score helps predict postoperative mortality and complications from liver dysfunction:

  • Child class A: 0% mortality at one year.

  • Child class B: 20% mortality at one year.

  • Child class C: 55% mortality at one year.

Practical Application

  • Class A: Regular follow-up, monitoring, and medical therapy.

  • Class B: Intensive monitoring and interventions like paracentesis for ascites.

  • Class C: Hospitalization and potential consideration for liver transplantation.

Example: A patient with:

  • Albumin of 3.2 g/dL (2 points)

  • Bilirubin of 2.5 mg/dL (2 points)

  • INR of 1.8 (2 points)

  • Mild ascites (2 points)

  • Grade I encephalopathy (2 points)

Total score = 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 10 (Child-Pugh C).

Interprofessional Team Interventions

Healthcare team members, especially those dealing with advanced liver disease, should be well-acquainted with the Child-Pugh score to guide patient care and improve outcomes through timely interventions.


The Child-Pugh score remains a valuable tool for assessing liver disease severity and guiding clinical decisions. Understanding its application, limitations, and comparison with other scoring systems like MELD is crucial for optimizing patient care and outcomes.

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15. Juni

การใช้คะแนน Child-Pugh ในโรคตับ

การนิยาม/บทนำ ระบบการให้คะแนน Child-Pugh (หรือที่เรียกว่า Child-Pugh-Turcotte score) ถูกออกแบบมาเพื่อทำนายอัตราการเสียชีวิตในผู้ป่วยโรคตับแข็ง เดิมทีถูกพัฒนาโดย Child และ Turcotte ในปี 1964 เพื่อคัดเลือกผู้ป่วยที่จะได้รับประโยชน์จากการผ่าตัดลดความดันในเส้นเลือดพอร์ทัล ระบบการให้คะแนนนี้ใช้เกณฑ์ทางคลินิกและห้องปฏิบัติการ 5 อย่าง: serum bilirubin, serum albumin, ascites, neurological disorder, และ clinical nutrition status ระบบนี้ถูกปรับปรุงโดย Pugh et al. โดยเปลี่ยนจาก clinical nutrition status เป็น prothrombin time และเพิ่มคะแนนตามความรุนแรงของแต่ละเกณฑ์:

  • Encephalopathy: ไม่มี = 1 point, Grade 1 และ 2 = 2 points, Grade 3 และ 4 = 3 points

  • Ascites: ไม่มี = 1 point, เล็กน้อย = 2 points, ปานกลาง = 3 points

  • Bilirubin: น้อยกว่า 2 mg/dL = 1 point, 2 ถึง 3 mg/dL = 2 points, มากกว่า 3 mg/dL = 3 points

  • Albumin: มากกว่า 3.5 g/dL = 1 point, 2.8 ถึง 3.5 g/dL = 2 points, น้อยกว่า 2.8 g/dL = 3 points

  • Prothrombin Time (sec prolonged): น้อยกว่า…

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