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Fulminant hepatitis or acute liver failure

What is acute liver failure?

Acute hepatocellular failure (or acute liver failure) is a critical condition that is life-threatening.
Hepatocytes (liver cells) work insufficiently, which can lead to serious complications.

What are the causes?

There are multiple causes, but they are only identified in about 50% of cases.

Some of the known causes include:

  • Metabolic diseases
  • Auto-immune diseases: antibodies produced by the affected organism attack and destroy liver cells
  • Certain substances that are toxic to the liver.
  • Some medication becomes toxic to the liver when it is overdosed (such as paracetamol, often used for pain and fever).
  • “Amanita” mushrooms are an example of a non-medicinal substance that is toxic to the liver.
  • Infections, especially viral infections

What are the symptoms?

Acute hepatocellular failure occurs suddenly in an apparently healthy patient.

Symptoms can vary:

  • A state of consciousness disorder: children become disoriented, agitated, even comatose.
  • Coagulation disorders: bleeding with no visible injury
  • An accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, called “ascites."
  • Kidney failure
  • Metabolic problems, such as low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Signs depend on the origin of the liver failure. Doctors usually monitor the child closely in intensive care and try to maintain the functionality of their various organs, including the liver.
If the situation becomes critical, emergency liver transplantation is the only treatment possible.

What is the prognosis?

The critical stage is prior to liver transplantation. Afterwards, the prognosis for survival is excellent, although depending on the primary disease, there can be consequences, especially neurological.