A liver failure or liver failure is when the central metabolic organ – the liver – can no longer work properly. Sometimes, this develops without a pre-existing liver disease (acute liver failure), in other cases, from long-term liver damage (chronic liver failure). Read more about causes, course and treatment options for liver failure.
What are the causes of liver failure?
A significant cause is hepatotropic viruses, i.e., hepatitis B, hepatitis C and hepatitis D viruses. These lead to chronic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and concomitant liver cirrhosis, which result in a liver failure. Other inflammatory liver diseases, which, however, account for only a small proportion of the totality of patients with liver failure
What are the symptoms of liver failure?
Early symptoms are:
- Jaundice: Since the liver is no longer able to metabolize bilirubin, which results from the breakdown of the red blood pigment, it accumulates and leads to a yellowing of the skin and sclera, which is called jaundice (jaundice).
- Coagulation Disorder: A coagulation disorder results from the fact that the liver can no longer fulfill its synthesis function of so-called coagulation factors. Therefore, there is a tendency to bleed.
- Albumin deficiency: Since no more albumin is synthesized, this results in an ascites (ascites) with a partly massive increase in circumference of the abdomen.
- Fetal hepatic: Patients smell of raw liver from the mouth.
- Itching: By accumulating metabolic products, there is sometimes a very pronounced itching, which is very strong, especially in the feet.
- Disorders of hormonal balance: Chronic liver damage can also lead to hormonal imbalances.
- Ammonia deposits: Ammonia deposits may cause hyperventilation in acute liver failure.
- Hepatic encephalopathy: An important symptom complex of liver failure are disorders of consciousness, which are due to a hepatic encephalopathy.
- Acute kidney failure: This is called hepatorenal syndrome.
How is liver failure treated?
Liver failure: treatment
Acute or acute-to-chronic liver failure requires immediate therapy in an intensive care unit. The treatment depends mainly on the cause of the liver damage – therefore, a precise diagnosis is very important.
Liver failure: therapy by transplantation
In some cases – especially with a previously damaged liver – the likelihood of the organ recovering and resuming its functions is low.