Acute liver failure induced by idiosyncratic reaction to drugs: Challenges in diagnosis and therapy

Shannan R Tujios, William M Lee
Liver International: Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of the Liver 2018, 38 (1): 6-14
Acute liver failure (ALF) requires urgent attention to identify etiology and determine prognosis, in order to assess likelihood of survival or need for transplantation. Identifying idiosyncratic drug-induced liver injury (iDILI) may be particularly difficult, but the illness generally follows a subacute course, allowing time to assess outcome and find a liver graft if needed. Not all drugs that cause iDILI lead to ALF; the most common are antibiotics including anti-tuberculous medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents and herbal and dietary supplements (HDS). Determining causality remains challenging particularly if altered mentation is present; identifying the causative agent depends in part on knowing the propensity of the drugs that have been taken in the proper time interval, plus excluding other causes. In general, iDILI that reaches the threshold of ALF will more often than not require transplantation, since survival without transplant is around 25%. Treatment consists of withdrawal of the presumed offending medication, consideration of N-acetylcysteine (NAC), as well as intensive care. Corticosteroids have not proven useful except perhaps in instances of apparent autoimmune hepatitis caused by a limited number of agents. Recently developed prognostic scoring systems may also aid in predicting outcome in this setting.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"