Health Questions and Answers

Question: What is fulminant hepatic failure?

Answer:

Characteristically this entity involves a previously healthy patient who undergoes acute and progressive liver failure. The mortality rate is ∼ 80% if untreated. Fulminant hepatic failure usually begins as malaise, anorexia, and low-grade fever, followed by signs and symptoms of liver failure (e.g., jaundice, encephalopathy). The most common cause of death in fulminant hepatic failure is either brain edema or sepsis. The most definitive therapy is liver transplantation.

Reference:  Sleisenger MH, Fordtran JS (eds): Gastrointestinal Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Management, 7th ed. Philadelphia, W.B. Saunders, 2003.

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