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Liver » Liver Transplant

Treating Acute Liver Failure- the Present and Future Aspects

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Acute liver failure is the rapid loss of over 80-90 percent of liver’s functional efficiency. The liver function loss aids the development of serious complications. ALF requires intensive and immediate care.

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Treatment includes diagnosing the cause of liver damage, critical monitoring of the patient, and efforts to reduce the rising complications.

Most patients show signs of hepatic encephalopathy, gastrointestinal bleeding, bone-marrow aplasia, increased intracranial pressure, kidney failure, and convulsions among other ALF complications.

Monitoring the patient’s metabolic parameters, strictly following the suggested diet, and surveillance for infections are a few of many treatment methods for Acute Liver Failure.

Liver Transplants in ALF and Poisoning

If a drug overdose, mushroom poisoning, or some other kind of toxic contact is responsible for express liver damage, reverse poisoning can be the best attempt at recovery. For instance, acetaminophen(also called paracetamol) poisoning can be cured with a drug called acetylcysteine.

However, there is always the possibility of irreparable liver damage. A transplant is required, thus stressing the need to shift an ALF patient to the intensive care unit as promptly as possible.

Treating ALF Complications

Impaired filtering in a weak liver causes different compounds to be released into the bloodstream unchecked. For instance, high ammonia content in the blood can cause hepatic encephalopathy, contribute to the increased amount of water in the brain, and cause cerebral oedema. Cerebral oedema could result in intracranial hypertension and liver failure.

Likewise, ALF gives way to many other equally disastrous conditions. The doctors focus on all symptoms, trying to behead every possible complication that turns up because of the damage to the organ.

Cerebral oedema is dealt by relieving the extra fluid pressure in the brain. Doctors also screen for fungal and bacterial infections and prescribe meds to control the risk of bleeding. The patient is checked for blood cell count, metabolic panel, coagulation, liver enzyme activity, etc. A wrecked liver affects the ability of the body to extract all the required nutrients from food, thus making it crucial for the doctors to provide nutrition support as well as calorie-dense food to the patient.

The Future of ALF Treatments

In acute liver failure, delaying or eliminating the need of a transplant has always been a prominent research venue for the scientists. Recent studies have brought along the concepts of artificial hepatic assist devices, xenotransplantation, and hepatocyte transplantation.

An artificial hepatic assistance would perform the functions of the liver, much like dialysis. Researchers are working to ensure survival by using this device. An extracorporeal liver support system has recently made turns in the news for helping ALF patients recover without a transplant.

Hepatocyte transplant, on the other hand, proposes replacing liver cells(hepatocytes) to delay organ removal for some time. At the same time, a carefully done hepatocyte transplant can also help the liver to heal completely, if successful.

Xenotransplantation theorises replacing a human liver with that of an animal. Experimentation took place in support of this hypothesis long ago. However, the results of using pig organs turned out to be disappointing. Now that modern medicine has advanced to a point where immunity is studied vigorously, and transplant medicine is more efficient than ever, xenotransplantation is being tried with newer and better techniques.

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