Aetiology and outcome of acute liver failure.

R Marudanayagam, V Shanmugam, Bridget Gunson, Darius Mirza, D Mayer, John Buckels, Simon Bramhall

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34 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND Acute liver failure (ALF) is a clinical syndrome characterized by the sudden onset of coagulopathy and encephalopathy. The outcome is unpredictable and is associated with high morbidity and mortality. We reviewed our experience to identify the aetiology and study the outcome of acute liver failure. METHODS A total of 1237 patients who presented with acute liver failure between January 1992 and May 2008 were included in this retrospective study. Liver transplantation was undertaken based on the King's College Hospital criteria. Data were obtained from the units prospectively collected database. The following parameters were analysed: patient demographics, aetiology, operative intervention, overall outcome, 30-day mortality and regrafts. RESULTS There were 558 men and 679 women with a mean age of 37 years (range: 8-78 years). The most common aetiology was drug-induced liver failure (68.1%), of which 90% was as a result of a paracetamol overdose. Other causes include seronegative hepatitis (15%), hepatitis B (2.6%), hepatitis A (1.1%), acute Budd-Chiari syndrome (1.5%), acute Wilson's disease (0.6%), subacute necrosis(3.2%) and miscellaneous (7.8%). Three hundred and twenty-seven patients (26.4%) were listed for liver transplantation, of which 263 patients successfully had the procedure (80.4%). The current overall survival after transplantation was 70% with a median follow-up of 57 months. After transplantation for ALF, the 1-year, 5-year and 10-year survival were 76.7%, 66% and 47.6%, respectively. The 30-day mortality was 13.7%. Out of the 974 patients who were not transplanted, 693 patients are currently alive. Among the 281 patients who died without transplantation, 260 died within 30 days of admission (26.7%). Regrafting was performed in 31 patients (11.8%), the most common indication being hepatic artery thrombosis (11 patients). CONCLUSION Paracetamol overdose was the most common cause of acute liver failure. Liver transplantation, when performed for acute liver failure, has good long-term survival.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-34
Number of pages6
JournalHPB : the official journal of the International Hepato Pancreato Biliary Association
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009


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