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Diagnosis and management of acute liver failure

Larson, Anne M

Current Opinion in Gastroenterology: May 2010 - Volume 26 - Issue 3 - p 214–221
doi: 10.1097/MOG.0b013e32833847c5
Liver: Edited by Don Rockey

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.

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA

Correspondence to Anne M. Larson, MD, FACP, Associate Professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5939 Harry Hines Blvd., HQ8.807 – MC 9258, Dallas, TX 75390-9258, USA Tel: +1 214 645 1948; fax: +1 214 645 1900; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.