Inaccuracies of Hemoglobin A1c in Liver Cirrhosis: A Case Report

Mathew Clarke, Jamila Benmoussa, Amulya Penmetsa, Philip Otterbeck, Farhang Ebrahimi, Jay Nfonoyim


Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is the gold standard for the measurement of long-range glycemic control in patients with diabetes mellitus type 2 (T2DM). In a rare subset of patients, this measurement may not be reliable. Inaccuracies of HbA1c in liver cirrhosis are rare, but documented. The objective of this study was to increase awareness about low HbA1c in liver cirrhosis and discuss alternative biomarkers that can be used to measure glycemic control. We present the case of a 61-year-old Caucasian female, with history of hepatitis C and uncontrolled T2DM, who was admitted for evaluation of compensated liver cirrhosis. She was found to have blood glucoses greater than 500 mg/dL; however, her HbA1c was measured at 5.5%. Ultrasound of the abdomen showed liver cirrhosis, ascites, and splenomegaly. Blood work revealed acute kidney injury, anemia of chronic disease, normal albumin level, and low HbA1c. Fructosamine and glycated albumin were high, indicating a hyperglycemic status during the last 3 weeks. HbA1c can be falsely low in liver cirrhosis, and can give a false assumption about control of the diabetic disease process. In this case, other biomarkers can be used to monitor glycemic control; by far frequent finger stick monitoring is the best method.

J Endocrinol Metab. 2016;6(1):30-32


Low HbA1c; Glucose monitoring; Liver cirrhosis; Fructosamine; Glycated albumin

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