Aim: A nationwide survey was performed to clarify the present state of fulminant hepatitis and late onset hepatic failure (LOHF) between 1998 and 2003 in Japan.
Methods: Three hundred and sixteen, 318 and 64 patients, respectively, with acute and subacute types of fulminant hepatitis and LOHF, in which grade II or more severe hepatic encephalopathy occurred within 10 days, between 11 days and 8 weeks and between 8 and 24 weeks, respectively, after the onset of disease symptoms, were analyzed.
Results: Complications such as metabolic syndrome were underlying in 41.5% of patients with subacute fulminant hepatitis and 51.6% of patients with LOHF, and most of such patients had received daily medications. The etiology of fulminant hepatitis was viral infection in 71.2% of the acute type and 31.8% in the subacute type. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection was found in most of these patients; transient infection prevailed in the acute type; and HBV carrier prevailed in the subacute type. The etiology was unknown in 42.8% and 53.1% of the subacute type and LOHF, respectively. Autoimmune hepatitis and drug allergy-induced liver injury were found in 10.7% and 11.3%, respectively, of the subacute type. Artificial liver support with plasma exchange and/or hemodiafiltration took place in more than 90% of all patients. The survival rates of the patients without liver transplantation were 53.7% in the acute and 24.4% in the subacute type, and 11.5% in LOHF. The prognosis was especially poor in HBV carriers and patients with autoimmune hepatitis. The survival rates of those who underwent liver transplantation were 56.3%, 39.3% and 23.4% in the acute type, subacute type and LOHF, respectively.
Conclusion: The etiology and prognosis differed in patients with fulminant hepatitis and LOHF depending on the disease types in Japan, and liver transplantation improved the prognosis of the patients irrespective of the disease type and etiology.