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Minerva Gastroenterol Dietol. 2008 Mar;54(1):75-84.

Acute liver failure in pregnancy: an overview.

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  • 1Stanley Medical College, Chennai, India.


Acute liver failure (ALF) in pregnancy is a common challenging clinical problem both in terms of correct diagnosis and management. Acute viral hepatitis is the most common cause of jaundice in pregnancy. The course of acute viral hepatitis is unaffected by pregnancy, except in patients with hepatitis E (HEV), particularly from endemic countries like India, where ALF carries a high mortality. In both HEV infection and herpes simplex infections, maternal and fetal mortality rates are significantly increased. ALF specific to pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, associated with hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count (HELLP) syndrome, acute fatty liver of pregnancy, and hepatic infarction result in increased maternal and fetal mortality if not recognized and acted on early. Early recognition of possible causes and prompt treatment are crucial for successful outcome of ALF in pregnancy. Treatment involves prompt delivery, whereupon the liver disease quickly reverses. This review article addresses the present understanding of ALF in pregnancy reviewing the common causes of ALF and their management in pregnancy.

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