Fulminant hepatic failure
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The rare but potentially devastating clinical syndrome of fulminant hepatic failure has as its components severe encephalopathy and finally cerebral edema, hemodynamic instability, renal failure, coagulopathy, profound metabolic disturbances and a particular susceptibility to bacterial and fungal infection. Despite advances in medical management, fulminant hepatic failure in its most severe form carries a high mortality rate unless urgent orthotopic liver transplantation is carried out. However, availability of cadaveric donor organs is limited and, due to the rapidly progressive clinical course in many cases, a substantial proportion of patients will die or develop contraindications to transplantation before the procedure can be performed. Consequently, recent interest has centred on living donor transplantation and the possibility of providing temporary liver support, either through auxiliary partial organ transplantation, extracorporeal perfusion or transplantation of hepatocytes, to allow time for either a liver graft to become available or native liver regeneration, on which spontaneous survival ultimately depends, to occur.
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