What is the focus of history in the evaluation of acute liver failure?

Updated: Jun 13, 2019
  • Author: Gagan K Sood, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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The patient's history is valuable for suggesting the likely causes of acute liver failure and guiding appropriate interventions. If the patient is incapacitated, closely question family members, caretakers, and friends.

In taking the history, collect details on the following:

  • Date of onset of jaundice and encephalopathy

  • Alcohol use

  • Medication use (prescription and illicit or recreational)

  • Herbal or traditional medicine use

  • Family history of liver disease (Wilson disease)

  • Exposure to risk factors for viral hepatitis (travel, transfusions, sexual contacts, occupation, body piercing)

  • Exposure to hepatic toxins (mushrooms, organic solvents, phosphorus contained in fireworks).

  • Evidence of complications (eg, renal failure, seizures, bleeding, infection)

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