Purpose of review: Acute liver failure (ALF) is a devastating syndrome afflicting previously healthy individuals. Early recognition of the illness is crucial, as aggressive treatment may improve outcomes. Despite significant advances in care, however, the mortality remains high (30–100%). This brief review will focus on the causes and overall management of the complications of ALF.
Recent findings: Our knowledge of the causes of ALF has expanded significantly in the last decade. The mechanism of hepatic encephalopathy and cerebral edema in this setting continues to be elucidated and is discussed here.
Summary: Improved outcomes can be achieved with the early recognition and aggressive management of ALF.