• albumin dialysis;
  • acute hepatic failure;
  • MARS system;
  • mushroom poisoning;
  • children


Background: Acute liver failure (ALF) as a result of mushroom poisoning is associated with a high mortality (particularly in children), despite optimal medical therapy (OMT), including charcoal haemoperfusion and haemodiafiltration. MARS is a new, cell-free, extracorporeal liver assistance method utilizing an albumin dialysate for the removal of albumin-bound toxins.

Methods: We describe the first series in the literature (also first MARS treatments in Romania) with ALF because of mushroom poisoning in children (M/F = 2/4, age = 7–16 years). Liver function was evaluated pre-MARS and 15-min post-MARS, 24 h following each treatment and 30 days post-MARS.

Findings: All patients had severe hepatic dysfunction: hepatic encephalopathy (HE; four grade II, one grade III, one grade IV), ALT = 4082 (3400–5600) IU/L, bilirubin = 6.3 (2–10) mg/dL, prothrombin time (PT) = 52.5 (23–141) s. MARS was uneventful and well-tolerated. Two 6-h sessions per patient were performed with a similar immediate impact on liver tests: mean drop in ALT of −33 and −35%, respectively, and in bilirubin of −39 and −36%, respectively. ALT levels 24 h following MARS-1, remained unchanged but continued to drop by a further −28% following MARS-2. By contrast, all patients had a significant rebound in bilirubin (+39%) 24 h following MARS-1; however, following MARS-2 a rebound was seen only in two cases (+220%). PT improved by 37% after MARS-1 and normalized in four patients after MARS-2.

Outcome: Four patients survived and completely recovered the hepatic function. Negative prognostic markers: lack of complete correction of PT, continuous rebound and increase in bilirubin, and lack of improvement in HE post-MARS-1. Survival in six well-matched cases, treated by OMT = 0/6 (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: MARS is a safe and highly effective depurative therapy in children with ALF. Survival is predicted only by the impact/results of the initial MARS sessions and not by any of the baseline parameters.