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Abstract

Severe coagulopathy in fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) is difficult to correct by conventional means. Recombinant activated factor VII (rFVIIa) is an antihemophilic factor that has shown promise in treating coagulopathy in liver disease. Our aim is to review our experience with rFVIIa in treating the coagulopathy of FHF and compare these results with those of conventional therapy. Fifteen patients with FHF who met King's College criteria for orthotopic liver transplantation were studied. All were ascertained from our liver disease registry. Eight consecutive patients were administered fresh frozen plasma (FFP) alone, whereas seven consecutive patients were administered FFP and rFVIIa (40 μg/kg intravenous bolus). The two groups, with similar demographic characteristics, were compared in terms of measured parameters of coagulopathy (prothrombin time and international normalized ratio), amount of plasma infused, development of anasarca, ability to undergo intracranial pressure (ICP) transducer placement, bleeding complications, ability to undergo transplantation, and survival. All patients administered rFVIIa (after a single dose) versus none administered FFP alone had temporary (2- to 6-hour) correction of coagulopathy (P < .0002). All patients administered rFVIIa versus 38% administered FFP alone were able to have an ICP transducer placed (P = .03). The rFVIIa group had less anasarca (P = .04). An equal number of patients underwent transplantation from each group, but overall survival was slightly better in the rFVIIa group (P = .04). Five of seven patients in the rFVIIa group were administered one or more subsequent doses of rFVIIa after placement of the ICP monitor (two patients, for additional procedures; three patients, prophylactically in the first 24 hours after ICP transducer placement) at the discretion of the attending physicians. We conclude that rFVIIa is effective in transiently correcting laboratory parameters of coagulopathy in patients with FHF. It facilitates the performance of invasive procedures and is associated with less frequent anasarca compared with conventional therapy. Our preliminary experience supports the need for further studies to define the optimal dosing, safety, and efficacy of rFVIIa in patients with FHF.