Hemostasis and fibrinolysis in severe liver failure and their relation to hemorrhage



In a study of severe, decompensated liver failure, we tried to find a correlation between hemorrhage and parameters ofhemostasis and fibrinolysis. Three groups of patients were studied: alcoholic cirrhosis; nonalcoholic cirrhosis, and acute liver failure without known prior liver disease. The two cirrhotic groups did not differ significantly from each other in coagulation or in fibrinolytic parameters, although liver function was more impaired in nonalcoholic cirrhosis. The levels of clotting factors, antithrombin III, prekallikrein, plasminogen and α2−antiplasmin were significantly lower in the third group. Mean values of fibrinolytic activity (fibrin plate method) were slightly reduced as compared to normal in all three groups. Tissue plasminogen activator-related antigen tended to be elevated especially in alcoholic cirrhosis. The free fast-acting plasminogen activator inhibitor showed extremely high and extremely low levels in some patients among all three groups.

Nonvariceal, capillary-type bleeding, including mucosal bleeding, hematomas and bleeding from puncture sites correlated with low thrombotest and normotest levels (p < 0.01), low fibrinogen concentration (p < 0.05) and with a high quotient of fibrinolytic activity (square root of lysis area) and normotest (p < 0.001). The ratio between fibrinformation and dissolution appears to be an important parameter of hemorrhagic tendency in liver disease. Variceal bleeding appeared not to be related to impairment of hemostasis or fibrinolysis.