Fulminant hepatic failure caused by acute fatty liver of pregnancy treated by orthotopic liver transplantation

Authors

  • Samuel A. Ockner,

    1. Departments of Medicine, Pathology and Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110
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  • Elizabeth M. Brunt,

    1. Departments of Medicine, Pathology and Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110
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  • Steven M. Cohn,

    1. Departments of Medicine, Pathology and Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110
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  • Elaine S. Krul,

    1. Departments of Medicine, Pathology and Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110
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  • Douglas W. Hanto,

    1. Departments of Medicine, Pathology and Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110
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  • Marion G. Peters

    Corresponding author
    1. Departments of Medicine, Pathology and Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110
    • Box 8124, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110
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Abstract

A previously healthy 35-year-old woman was seen at 37 weeks' gestation with a 10-day history of fever, vomiting, diarrhea and malaise. Serum laboratory findings included elevation of serum bilirubin and AST, prolongation of serum prothrombin time and a positive monospot. A tentative diagnosis of acute fatty liver of pregnancy was made, and a healthy male infant was delivered by emergency cesarean section because of fetal distress. Over the subsequent 3 days, acute progressive oliguric renal failure, disseminated intravascular coagulation, hypoglycemia requiring intravenous dextrose infusion and pancreatitis developed; her mental status progressed to stage III encephalopathy. Quantitative computed tomography estimated the liver volume to be 770 cm3. The decision to proceed with orthotopic liver transplantation was made on the basis of progressive clinical deterioration despite aggressive support and because of her small liver size. After transplant, the patient's multisystem failure rapidly reversed. Histopathological examination of the native liver demonstrated predominantly zone 3 microvesicular steatosis with characteristic ultrastructural changes consistent with acute fatty liver of pregnancy. Southern blot analysis for Epstein-Barr virus DNA was negative. We conclude that orthotopic liver transplantation should be considered for the small group of patients with fulminant hepatic failure associated with acute fatty liver of pregnancy who manifest signs of irreversible liver failure despite delivery of the fetus and aggresive supportive care.

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