Toxicant-Induced Hepatic Injury

  • Kim DalhoffEmail author
Reference work entry


The sudden failure of a previously healthy and functioning liver is a dramatic and devastating event. Acute liver failure is the common final pathway of a multitude of conditions and insults, all of which result in massive hepatic necrosis or loss of normal hepatic function. The ensuing multiorgan system failure frequently has a fatal outcome, with mortality rates in most series ranging from approximately 55% to 95% [1]. Acute liver failure (ALF, previously often referred to as fulminant hepatic failure (FHF)) knows no age boundaries, with many cases occurring in those younger than 30 years. Short of excellent intensive care unit (ICU) support and liver transplantation in selected cases, few viable treatment options are available. Over the past few decades, however, survival has been improved by anticipation, recognition, and early treatment of associated complications, as well as the application of prognostic criteria for early identification of patients requiring liver transplantation (along with improvement in the techniques and science of transplantation itself). The etiology of ALF varies from country to country and the incidence change over time. Paracetamol (acetaminophen) has now replaced viral hepatitis as the leading cause of ALF [2]. In a study from London including 310 patients with ALF in the period 1994–2004, 42% of the cases were caused by paracetamol [3], whereas this was only the cause in 2% of 267 patients in Spain from 1992 to 2000 [4]. However, less than 10% of all liver transplants are performed in patients with ALF [5, 6].


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical PharmacologyBispebjerg and Frederiksberg University HospitalCopenhagenDenmark

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