Clinical management of acute liver failure: Results of an international multi-center survey Observational Study

Liane Rabinowich, Julia Wendon, William Bernal, Oren Shibolet

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


AIM To assess the practice of caring for acute liver failure (ALF) patients in varying geographic locations and medical centers. METHODS Members of the European Acute Liver Failure Consortium completed an 88-item questionnaire detailing management of ALF. Responses from 22 transplantation centers in 11 countries were analyzed, treating between 300 and 500 ALF cases and performing over 100 liver transplants (LT) for ALF annually. The questions pertained to details of the institution and their clinical activity, standards of care, referral and admission, wardbased care versus intensive care unit (ICU) as well as questions regarding liver transplantation - including criteria, limitations, and perceived performance. Clinical data was also collected from 13 centres over a 3 mo period. RESULTS The interval between referral and admission of ALF patients to specialized units was usually less than 24 h and once admitted, treatment was provided by a multidisciplinary team. Principles of care of patientsrelation to recognition of severity and care of the more critically ill. Centers exhibited similarities in thresholds for ICU admission and management of severe hepatic encephalopathy. Over 80% of centers administered n-Acetyl-cysteine to ICU patients for non-paracetamolrelated ALF. There was significant divergence in the use of prophylactic antibiotics and anti-fungals, lactulose, nutritional support and imaging investigations in admitted patients and in the monitoring and treatment of intra-cranial pressure (ICP). ICP monitoring was employed in 12 centers, with the most common indications being papilledema and renal failure. Most patients listed for transplantation underwent surgery within an average waiting time of 1-2 d. Over a period of 3 mo clinical data from 85 ALF patients was collected. Overall patient survival at 90-d was 76%. Thirty six percent of patients underwent emergency LT, with a 90% post transplant survival to hospital discharge, 42% survived with medical management alone. CONCLUSION Alongside similarities in principles of care of ALF patients, major areas of divergence were present in key areas of diagnosis, monitoring, treatment and decision to transplant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7595-7603
Number of pages9
JournalWorld Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number33
StatePublished - 7 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute liver failure
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Intra-cranial pressure
  • Liver transplantation


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