What Does Liver Failure Mean?


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Mahwash Marcel answered
This means that the liver is no longer able to carry out its various metabolic functions. Liver failure may result from chronic liver disease (cirrhosis, chronic active hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease or extensive tumor) or from fulminant hepatic failure (usually secondary to viral hepatitis or paracetamol over dose). The effects of liver failure are as follows:

1. Jaundice
2. Hepatic encephalopathy; this term refers to the psychiatric manifestations of the liver failure, extending from mild confusion to deep coma.
3. Bleeding tendency, giving rise to hemorrhage.
4. Ascites.
5. Osteomalacia and osteoporosis, causing bone pains ad fractures.
6. Sensitivity to many drugs – especially sedatives and analgesics which may precipitate hepatitis encephalopathy.

Severely ill patient should be nursed in an intensive care unit. Patients with fulminant hepatic failure (whose livers are functioning normally prior to their illness) have the potential for full recovery, although only about 30 % of those in deep coma will recover. Each complication has to be treated individually as there is no specific treatment for liver failure and machines are not available to take over the functions of the liver in the same way as kidney machines do in renal failure.

Hepatic failure can be precipitated by protein load, either from the diet or following gastrointestinal bleeding, constipation, which increases ammonia absorption, infection, particularly of the ascetic fluid, diuretics, which may cause low potassium (hypokalaemia), and drugs, especially narcotics.

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