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Intensive Care Med. 2009 Aug;35(8):1390-6. doi: 10.1007/s00134-009-1472-x. Epub 2009 Apr 3.

Predictors of bacteraemia and mortality in patients with acute liver failure.

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  • 1Division of Critical Care Medicine, University of Alberta, 3C1.16 Walter C. Mackenzie Centre, 8440-112th Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2B7, Canada.



To determine what physiological and biochemical factors predict development of bacteraemia and mortality in patients with acute liver failure (ALF).


Retrospective analysis of 206 ALF patients admitted to a specialist liver intensive therapy unit (LITU) from January 2003 to July 2005 (data collected prospectively).


A total of 206 patients were defined with ALF: 72 (35%) suffered bacteraemia (BAClf) and 134 (65%) did not (NBAClf). Gram positive organisms were observed in 44% of isolates, gram negatives in 52% and fungaemia in 4%. Median time to first bacteraemia was 10 (7-16) days. On admission, BAClf patients had higher SIRS scores and degrees of hepatic encephalopathy (HE). During their LITU course, BAClf patients had significantly increased requirements for renal replacement therapy (RRT), mechanical ventilation, and longer median LITU stay. Multivariate analysis (logistical regression) demonstrated significant predictors of bacteraemia on admission were HE grade >2 (Odds Ratio 1.6) and SIRS score >1 (OR 2.7). In all patients, independent predictors of mortality (logistical) were age (OR 1.41), maximum HE grade pre-intubation (1.76), Lactate (1.14) and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score (APACHEII) (1.09), but not bacteraemia. Transplantation was protective (OR 0.20).


In this study, severity of hepatic encephalopathy and SIRS score >1 were predictive of bacteraemia. APACHEII was independently predictive of mortality in all ALF patients but not bacteraemia.

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