Postgrad Med J 81:148-154 doi:10.1136/pgmj.2004.026005
  • Review

Acute liver failure

  1. J G O’Grady
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr J G O’Grady
 Institute of Liver Studies, King’s College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5 9PJ, UK; john.o'
  • Received 24 June 2004
  • Accepted 11 August 2004


Acute liver failure is a complex multisystemic illness that evolves quickly after a catastrophic insult to the liver leading to the development of encephalopathy. The underlying aetiology and the pace of progression strongly influence the clinical course. The commonest causes are paracetamol, idiosyncratic drug reactions, hepatitis B, and seronegative hepatitis. The optimal care is multidisciplinary and up to half of the cases receive liver transplants, with survival rates around 75%–90%. Artificial liver support devices remain unproven in efficacy in acute liver failure.


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