Characteristics and outcomes of patients with acute liver failure admitted to Australian and New Zealand intensive care units

Stephen Warrillow, Michael Bailey, David Pilcher, Alex Kazemi, Colin McArthur, Paul Young, Rinaldo Bellomo

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Background: Knowledge about patients with acute liver failure (ALF) in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) is lacking. Aims: To evaluate whether the pattern of ALF would be similar to previous studies and whether, despite potentially low transplantation rates, mortality would be comparable. Methods: We obtained data from the ANZ Intensive Care Society Adult Patient Database and the ANZ Liver Transplant Registry for 10 years commencing 2005 and analysed for patient outcomes. Results: During the study period, 1 022 698 adults were admitted to intensive care units across ANZ, of which 723 had ALF. The estimated annual incidence of ALF over this period was 3.4/million people and increased over time (P = 0.001). ALF patients had high illness severity (Acute Physiology And Chronic Health Evaluation III 79.8 vs 50.1 in non-ALF patients; P < 0.0001) and were more likely to be younger, female, pregnant and immunosuppressed. ALF was an independent predictor of mortality (odds ratio 1.5 (1.26–1.79); P < 0.0001). At less than 23%, the use of liver transplantation was low, but the mortality of 39% was similar to previous studies. Conclusions: ALF is a rare but increasing diagnosis in ANZ intensive care units. Low transplantation rates in ANZ for ALF do not appear to be associated with higher mortality rates than reported in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-885
Number of pages12
JournalInternal Medicine Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • acute liver failure
  • emergency liver transplantation
  • paracetamol overdose

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