How is acute liver failure (ALF) characterized?

Updated: Jun 13, 2019
  • Author: Gagan K Sood, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

The term acute liver failure is used to describe the development of coagulopathy, usually with an international normalized ratio (INR) of greater than 1.5, and any degree of mental alteration (encephalopathy) in a patient without preexisting cirrhosis and with an illness of less than 26 weeks' duration.

Acute liver failure is a broad term that encompasses both fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) and subfulminant hepatic failure (or late-onset hepatic failure). Fulminant hepatic failure is generally used to describe the development of encephalopathy within 8 weeks of the onset of symptoms in a patient with a previously healthy liver. Subfulminant hepatic failure is reserved for patients with liver disease for up to 26 weeks before the development of hepatic encephalopathy.


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