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Keywords:

  • Acute liver failure;
  • Albumin dialysis;
  • Liver transplantation;
  • Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System

Abstract

Hepatic encephalopathy (HE)-associated brain edema is a common cause of death in acute liver failure (ALF). Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System (MARS) albumin dialysis detoxifies endogenous and exogenous toxins from blood and improves HE. In this study we assessed the effect of MARS on increasing the length of time available while waiting for liver graft. Thirty-seven patients with ALF who received a high-urgent liver transplant (LTx) were divided into three groups according to the amount of histological necrosis in the explanted liver: group I = 100% necrosis; group II = 80–99% necrosis; group III = less than 80% necrosis. MARS was used continuously until LTx. Median time (range) on MARS treatment prior to LTx in groups I–III was 7 days (2–26), 6 days (1–17), and 5 days (1–15), and the median time on the waiting list was 5 days (1–11), 3 days (0–13), and 1 day (0–12), respectively. The HE grade prior to and after MARS was similar in all groups. In two patients the HE grade decreased during MARS treatment, even though the explanted liver showed a complete lack of viable cells. Overall 30-day and one-year survival were 97% and 92%, respectively, without differences between the three groups. In ALF patients the liver cell damage progressed to total or near total necrosis of the liver when the waiting time was prolonged. Yet, with MARS treatment some patients with total hepatic necrosis showed an absence of encephalopathy. With MARS treatment some patients might be able to wait longer for a LTx with good results.