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Liver Failure

LIVER FAILURE:

File:Hepatocellular carcinoma 1.jpgLiver failure is the inability of the liver to perform its normal syntheticand metabolic function as part of normal physiology. Two forms are recognised:[1]

Acute liver failure – development of hepatic encephalopathy (confusion, stupor and coma) and decreased production of proteins (such as albumin and blood clotting proteins) within four weeks of the first symptoms (such as jaundice) of a liver problem. “Hyperacute” liver failure is said to be present if this interval is 7 days or less, while “subacute” liver failure is said to be present if the interval is 5-12 weeks.

Chronic liver failure usually occurs in the context of cirrhosis, itself potentially the result of many possible causes, such as excessive alcoholintake, hepatitis B orC, autoimmune, hereditary and metabolic causes (such as iron or copper overload or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease).

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Types

Symptoms

  • Yellowish discoloration of skin which is obvious
  • Yellowish discoloration of eyes (icterus)
  • Pale stools
  • Dark or black urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal distension primarily due to fluid (Ascites)
  • Excessive Fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Difficulty with concentration, confusion, loss of acute memory
  • Lethargy and sleepiness
  • Tremor which is prominent in the hands and finger
  • Dry skin

Liver failure is a life threatening disease and anyone with the above symptoms should seek immediate medical attentions. [2]

Causes

  • Drug overdose: the classic drug is acetaminophen. There are warnings on labels of acetaminophen bottles about liver failure.
  • Prescription medications like anti seizure medications, antibiotics (tetracyclines), anti inflammatory drugs
  • Herbal supplements like kava, ephedra, skull cap and others
  • Hepatitis B, C and E
  • Wild or poisonous mushrooms
  • Autoimmune disorders: primary biliary cirrhosis
  • Hemochromatosis (inherited disorder where too much iron accumulates in the liver)
  • Blood vessel disorders like Budd-chiari syndrome
  • Rare metabolic disorders like Wilson’s disease rare disorder where there is excess copper deposition in the body
  • Reye’s syndrome is acute liver failure in children which may be related to use of aspirin
  • Alcoholism- causes progressive damage to the liver
  • Cancer

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of liver failure involves blood work and examination of the liver. A small liver biopsy can be applied under local anesthesia. Individuals whom are at risk may undergo a biopsy by inserting a small tube down the neck and into the liver. This is done under X ray visualization and takes about 30 minutes. [3]

Complications

When liver failure develops and treatment is delayed, it can cause several complications [4] which includes:

Brain swelling

This is due to fluid increase in the brain which deprives the brain of oxygen. This swelling accounts for the mental confusion, tremors and excess sleepiness [5].

Types

Symptoms

  • Yellowish discoloration of skin which is obvious
  • Yellowish discoloration of eyes (icterus)
  • Pale stools
  • Dark or black urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal distension primarily due to fluid (Ascites)
  • Excessive Fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Difficulty with concentration, confusion, loss of acute memory
  • Lethargy and sleepiness
  • Tremor which is prominent in the hands and finger
  • Dry skin

Liver failure is a life threatening disease and anyone with the above symptoms should seek immediate medical attentions. [2]

Causes

  • Drug overdose: the classic drug is acetaminophen. There are warnings on labels of acetaminophen bottles about liver failure.
  • Prescription medications like anti seizure medications, antibiotics (tetracyclines), anti inflammatory drugs
  • Herbal supplements like kava, ephedra, skull cap and others
  • Hepatitis B, C and E
  • Wild or poisonous mushrooms
  • Autoimmune disorders: primary biliary cirrhosis
  • Hemochromatosis (inherited disorder where too much iron accumulates in the liver)
  • Blood vessel disorders like Budd-chiari syndrome
  • Rare metabolic disorders like Wilson’s disease rare disorder where there is excess copper deposition in the body
  • Reye’s syndrome is acute liver failure in children which may be related to use of aspirin
  • Alcoholism- causes progressive damage to the liver
  • Cancer

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of liver failure involves blood work and examination of the liver. A small liver biopsy can be applied under local anesthesia. Individuals whom are at risk may undergo a biopsy by inserting a small tube down the neck and into the liver. This is done under X ray visualization and takes about 30 minutes. [3]

Complications

When liver failure develops and treatment is delayed, it can cause several complications [4] which includes:

Brain swelling

This is due to fluid increase in the brain which deprives the brain of oxygen. This swelling accounts for the mental confusion, tremors and excess sleepiness [5].

Excessive bleeding

The liver makes proteins which help stop bleeding. In liver failure these protein compounds are not made and the individual develops a tendency to bleed. The bleeding often occurs in the stomach and can be massive

Excessive bleeding

The liver makes proteins which help stop bleeding. In liver failure these protein compounds are not made and the individual develops a tendency to bleed. The bleeding often occurs in the stomach and can be massive

  1. ^ O’Grady JG, Schalm SW, Williams R (1993). “Acute liver failure: redefining the syndromes”Lancet 342 (8866): 273–5. doi:10.1016/0140-6736(93)91818-7PMID 8101303.
  2. ^ Cirrhosis Overview Retrieved on 2010-01-12
  3. ^ The Progression of Liver Disease American Liver Foundation. Retrieved on 2010-01-12
  4. ^ Liver Failure Retrieved on 2010-01-12
  5. ^ Acute liver failure Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on 2010-01-12
  6. ^ Acute Liver Failure eMedicine Gastroenterology. Retrieved on 2010-01-12
  7. ^ Liver Failure Overview Retrieved on 2010-01-12

January 27, 2010 - Posted by | Blood, Cells, Kidney, Liver, Pancreas

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