Medication Guide App

Fulminant Hepatic Failure

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) is also called acute liver failure. FHF occurs when your liver is damaged and suddenly stops working properly. This may cause damage to other tissues or organs, such as your brain. Brain problems may happen within 2 weeks to 3 months after your FHF starts.


CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • If you have a liver transplant, you may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Your body may not recognize your new liver and try to reject it. Your new liver may not work properly.

  • Without treatment, your liver failure could get worse. You may have breathing, bleeding, or heart problems, or an increased risk for infections. Your liver and kidneys may stop working. Your brain may swell and you could go into a coma. This could be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Arterial line:

An arterial line is a tube that is placed into an artery (blood vessel), usually in the wrist or groin. The groin is the area where your abdomen meets your upper leg. An arterial line may be used for measuring your blood pressure or for taking blood.

CVP line:

A CVP line is also called a central line. It is an IV put into a large blood vessel near your collarbone, in your neck, or in your groin. The CVP line may be used to give medicines or IV fluids. It may also be hooked up to a monitor to take pressure readings.

Medicines:

  • Antibiotics help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.

  • Antivirals help treat or prevent a viral infection. Antiviral medicine may also be given to control symptoms of a viral infection that cannot be cured.

  • Antioxidants may be given if your FHF is caused by too much acetaminophen.

  • Anticoagulants are a type of blood thinner medicine that helps prevent clots. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. These medicines may cause you to bleed or bruise more easily.

  • Steroids may be given to decrease inflammation.

  • Laxatives may help reduce the amount of ammonia in your blood by drawing it into your colon. It then leaves your body in your bowel movements.

Monitoring:

  • A glucose meter tests the amount of sugar in your blood. Your finger is pricked so your caregiver can get a small drop of blood. The blood is put onto a testing strip, and put into the glucose meter. The glucose meter will show the amount of sugar in your blood. This test may be done several times a day. You may be taught how to do this test yourself.

  • An ICP monitor tests your intracranial pressure (pressure inside your skull). An ICP monitor is a small tube that is put through your skull. The tubing is connected to a monitor.

  • A neurologic exam can show caregivers how well your brain works after an injury or illness. Caregivers will check how your pupils react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.

Tests:

  • A liver biopsy is a procedure that is done to remove a small piece of your liver. It is sent to a lab for tests. Caregivers will numb the area and put a needle through the wall of your abdomen or between your ribs. The needle is put into the liver and a small piece is taken out.

  • Blood and urine tests may show infection and liver function. They may also be done to get information about your overall health.

  • An abdominal ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures of your abdomen on a monitor.

  • A CT, or CAT scan, is a type of x-ray that is taken of your liver. You may be given contrast dye to help caregivers see your liver better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

Treatment:

  • Artificial liver support may be needed. A machine is used to clean your blood when your liver cannot. Chemicals and waste products are removed from your blood by a filtering machine. Your blood is passed through a filter and then returned to your body.

  • Plasmapheresis removes antibodies from your blood. Some of your blood will be removed through an IV. The blood is then put in a machine that spins and separates the red blood cells from the antibodies. The cleaned blood is then put back in your body through the IV.

  • Fresh frozen plasma transfusion is also called FFP. Plasma is found in your blood and helps your body make blood clots. This may be given through an IV if you need surgery or are at risk for bleeding.

  • Surgery may be needed. You may need a liver transplant if your liver is badly damaged. All or part of your damaged liver is removed or replaced with a healthy liver from a donor.

  • A ventilator is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. You may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into your windpipe.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Fulminant Hepatic Failure (Inpatient Care)

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