A single institution's experience (1982-1999) with plasma-exchange therapy in patients with fulminant hepatic failure.

The International journal of artificial organs

PubMedID: 10941639

De Silvestro G, Marson P, Brandolese R, Pittoni G, Ongaro G. A single institution's experience (1982-1999) with plasma-exchange therapy in patients with fulminant hepatic failure. Int J Artif Organs. 2000;23(7):454-61.
Fulminant hepatic failure is a rare, but often fatal complication of acute viral hepatitis. This condition, in absence of orthotopic liver transplantation (OLTx) surgery, is associated with a high mortality rate, despite the improvement of general intensive care. Plasma-exchange (PEx) therapy has been long used to treat FHF, in particular by removing toxic substances and correcting the severe coagulopathy. In this study we describe our experience with PEx treatment of FHF, beginning in 1982. Seventy patients affected with FHF due to various causes (HBV = 40; cryptogenic/non-A, non-E = 15; Amanita phalloides = 8; other = 7) were treated with PEx (altogether 348 sessions). Overall survival rate, comprising patients undergoing OLTx, was 51%, a little higher than what we observed in patients (N = 49) treated solely by PEx, i.e., 41%. The best outcome predictor was FHF aetiology, owing to the good survival rate in patients with Amanita phalloides intoxication and the very poor prognosis of patients suffering from cryptogenic/non-A, non-E FHF. Moreover, the marked increase in prothrombin time and alpha-fetoprotein levels after 48 hours from admission was associated with a good prognosis, whereas the patient's age and coma grade were not clearly predictive of survival. Additionally, lymphocyte subpopulation, resulting in a CD4/CD8 ratio lower than 1.0 along with CD8 activation with HLA-DR strong expression, were associated with a high rate of mortality and morbidity. Our data indicate that PEx therapy can improve survival in patients with sufficient residual capacity of liver regeneration. Moreover, the identification of certain prognostic factors may be useful for the rational planning of therapeutic strategy in FHF.