The objective of this study was to determine the etiologies, outcomes, prognostic indicators and the role of genetic testing in children with acute liver failure (ALF).
This retrospective study included 46 patients with pediatric acute liver failure (PALF) according to the PALF study group definition, admitted to King Fahad Specialist Hospital-Dammam, Saudi Arabia, between January 2014 and December 2021. Patients who survived with supportive therapy were designated as the recovery group, whereas those who died or underwent liver transplantation were designated as the death/transplant group.
There were 26 (56.5%) patients in the recovery group and 20 (43.5%) patients in the death/transplant group. Four patients (8.7%) underwent liver transplantation. After indeterminate causes (45.6%), genetic-metabolic diseases and drug-induced liver injury (DILI) were the most common cause with 15.2 and 13%, respectively. Genetic testing had a high yield of (6/31) in identifying monogenic disease associated with ALF. Younger age, lower Glasgow Coma Scale and higher international normalized ratio (INR) on admission were predictors for poor prognosis. The death/transplant group had longer intensive care unit stay (P < 0.001), and on admission they had more advanced hepatic encephalopathy (P < 0.005), more prolonged prothrombin time (P < 0.001), higher lactate (P < 0.006), higher total and direct bilirubin (P < 0.008) and (P < 0.001), respectively.
Genetic, metabolic and DILI causes constituted the most common cause of PALF after indeterminate causes. The use of genetic testing can improve diagnostic rates in special cases, but we could not assess the effect of genetic testing on prognosis. The overall survival rate in our study was 65.2%. Younger age, higher admission INR and lower Glasgow coma scale were indicators of poor prognosis.