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Intensive Care Management of Acute Liver Failure: Considerations While Awaiting Liver Transplantation.

Journal of Clinical and Translational Hepatology , Volume 7, pp 384-391; doi:10.14218/JCTH.2019.00032

Abstract: Acute liver failure is a unique clinical phenomenon characterized by abrupt deterioration in liver function and altered mentation. The development of high-grade encephalopathy and multisystem organ dysfunction herald poor prognosis. Etiologic-specific treatments and supportive measures are routinely employed; however, liver transplantation remains the only chance for cure in those who do not spontaneously recover. The utility of artificial and bioartificial assist therapies as supportive care-to allow time for hepatic recovery or as a bridge to liver transplantation-has been examined but studies have been small, with mixed results. Given the severity of derangements, intensive critical care is needed to successfully bridge patients to transplant, and evaluation of candidates occurs rapidly in parallel with serial reassessments of operative fitness. Psychosocial assessment is often suboptimal and relative contraindications to transplant, such as ventilator-dependence may be overlooked. While often employed to guide evaluation, no single prognostic model discriminates those who will spontaneously recover and those who will require transplant. The purpose of this review will be to summarize approaches in critical care, prognostic modeling, and medical evaluation of the acute liver failure transplant candidate.
Keywords: Transplantation / Thromboelastography / Liver assist therapy / Acute liver failure / Intracranial hypertension

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