Acute liver failure is loss of liver function that occurs rapidly — in days or weeks —usually in a person who has no pre-existing liver disease. Acute liver failure is less common than chronic liver failure, which develops more slowly.
Acute liver failure, also known as fulminant hepatic failure, can cause serious complications, including excessive bleeding and increasing pressure in the brain. It's a medical emergency that requires hospitalization.
Depending on the cause, acute liver failure can sometimes be reversed with treatment. In many situations, though, a liver transplant may be the only cure.
July 10, 2014
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- Goldberg E, et al. Acute liver failure in adults: Management and prognosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 31, 2014.
- An introduction to liver care. American Liver Foundation. http://www.liverfoundation.org/education/downloads/. Accessed March 31, 2014.
- Acute liver failure. National Institutes of Health. http://livertox.nih.gov/Phenotypes_fail.html. Accessed March 31, 2014.
- Bernal W, et al. Acute liver failure. New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;369:2525.
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