Hepatic Failure (Liver Failure): Symptoms, Treatment

Overview

Hepatic failure, also known as liver failure, occurs when the liver loses its normal functional ability. The liver is the second largest organ in the body and has several different functions. Hepatic failure is a serious condition which may be life-threatening.

Over 60,000 people die from hepatic failure
annually, and more than 14,000 people are waiting for a liver transplant.

Types & Causes

Hepatic failure has four types: acute liver
failure (ALF), subacute liver failure (SALF), acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF)
and chronic liver failure (CLF).

Causes
of acute liver failure (ALF)

  • Overdose of acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Viral infections, such as hepatitis A, B, and C (especially in children)
  • Reactions to certain prescription or herbal medications
  • Toxins, such as eating poisonous wild mushrooms
  • Have certain autoimmune diseases

Causes
of chronic liver failure (CLF)

Symptoms

Symptoms of hepatic failure usually
include:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Weight loss
  • Bruising or bleeding easily
  • Itching
  • Edema, or fluid buildup in the legs
  • Ascites
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Sleepiness
  • Coma

Diagnosis

If you are suspected with hepatic failure,
your doctors will ask your medical and family history and check your symptoms,
then he may order some tests for you, such as:

  • Blood tests: The result may find iron-deficiency anemia; thrombocytopenia; an increase in INR, transaminases, bilirubin, ammonia level, lactate, hypoxia and raised creatinine; a decrease in pseudocholinesterase and glucose.
  • Free copper for Wilson’s disease
  • Paracetamol levels in case of poisoning
  • Doppler ultrasound
  • CT
  • MRI
  • EEG

Treatment

If hepatic failure is detected early, it is
more likely to be treated successfully. Treatment depends on the causes,
symptoms and severity of your hepatic failure. Treatment options are usually
involved:

  • Surgery to remove the damaged part of the liver
  • Liver transplant
  • Lactulose, often with neomycin, can be given to reduce ammonia production
  • Mannitol to reduce the raised intracranial pressure
  • Therapeutic hypothermia for cerebral edema
  • Haemodialysis or continuous arteriovenous haemofiltration for acute kidney injury
  • Fresh-frozen plasma, platelet concentrates, antifibrinolytic drugs, prothrombin complex concentrates to treat or prevent abnormal bleeding

Please consult your doctors for your specific treatment.



Keywords: hepatic failure; liver failure; liver disease.

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