The Epidemiology of Acute Liver Failure

Nina Weiler, Andreas Schlotmann, Andreas Anton Schnitzbauer, Stefan Zeuzem, Martin-Walter Welker
Deutsches Ärzteblatt International 2020 January 24, 117 (4): 43-50

BACKGROUND: Acute liver failure (ALF) is a life-threatening event associated with high mortality. Currently, only estimates are available for its incidence. The aim of the study was to assess the incidence of ALF in Germany, using the accounting data of the largest statutory health insurance company, which represents 26.5 million people.

METHODS: The analysis included patients insured from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2018. Coding with the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems and the German operation and procedure codes were used to identify the patients, whose age, sex, liver transplantations (LT), and fatal outcomes were then recorded and extrapolated to the total population. As a validity check, the extrapolated LT results were compared with the LT that were actually performed.

RESULTS: The calculated incidence of ALF was 1.13/100 000 person-years, representing 4652 cases. Women were more often affected (52% versus 48%, p < 0.001). The overall rate of mortality within 3 months was 47%. A total of 203 LT were recorded in 176 patients. Men received 41% of the LT, women 59% (p < 0.137). The 1-year overall mortality rate after LT was 20%. The 203 calculated transplantations corresponded to 228 actually performed transplantations.

CONCLUSION: The incidence of ALF was higher than previously estimated for Germany, with only a very low rate of LT despite high mortality. When extrapolating ny, it must be borne in mind that those insured by the company concerned do not represent a valid sample.

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