How is liver failure treated?
Scar tissue formed in the liver due to advanced liver disease, which causes liver failure, is permanent. The goal of treatment is to stop or slow the progression of damage to the liver and minimize and quickly treat any other complications and coexisting conditions, such as portal hypertension and hemorrhage. Treatment plans include a multifaceted and individualized approach that varies depending on the underlying cause of liver disease and liver failure. For example:
Treatment of alcoholism includes abstaining from alcohol, which often requires participation in an alcohol treatment program.
Treatment of hepatitis may include corticosteroid drugs for autoimmune hepatitis or interferon, a medication used to treat a hepatitis infection.
Liver transplant may be an option for some people with liver failure. This major surgical procedure involves using a healthy donor liver to replace a severely diseased liver.
What are the possible complications of liver failure?
Liver failure is a life-threatening condition that is often fatal as a result of serious complications and conditions associated with liver failure. In some cases, you may be able to reduce your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications and common coexisting conditions of liver failure include:
Ascites, which is a buildup of fluid and swelling in the abdomen
Esophageal varices, which is swelling of the veins of the esophagus due to portal hypertension. These bulging veins can burst, leading to life-threatening hemorrhage.
Hepatic encephalopathy, which involves changes in the brain due to an inability of the liver to filter toxins, such as ammonia. Hepatic encephalopathy can lead to coma and death.
- Portal hypertension, which is high blood pressure in a large abdominal vein that can lead to esophageal varices and other problems
- Cirrhosis. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/cirrhosis/.
- Cirrhosis. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001301/.
- Liver Disease. Lab Tests Online. http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/conditions/liver_disease.html.
- Liver Disease. University of Maryland Medical Center. http://www.umm.edu/liver/common.htm.
- The Progression of Liver Disease. American Liver Foundation. http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/progression/.
- Viral Hepatitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/.
What is liver failure?
Liver failure is a life-threatening condition in which there is a severe deterioration of liver function. The liver is a vital organ located in the right upper area of your abdomen under the ribs. Liver failure is caused by liver damage, which makes it difficult or impossible for the liver to function normally in processes that are critical to life and your overall health including:
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What are the symptoms of liver failure?
Early symptoms of liver failure are often not specific and may be confused with symptoms of many other conditions, such as indigestion, viral gastroenteritis, or chronic fatigue syndrome. Early symptoms may include:
Edema (swelling) in the legs
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What causes liver failure?
Liver failure is due to underlying liver diseases that often cause progressive damage to the liver. Liver disease generally begins with inflammation and enlargement of the liver, which may be reversed with medical treatment in some cases. Left untreated, liver inflammation leads to fibrosis (scarring) of the liver tissue that progresses and ultimately replaces healthy liver tissue. Scarred live... Read more about liver failurecauses