Acute-on-chronic liver failure: Concept, natural history, and prognosis

Jody C. Olson, Patrick S. Kamath

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: A population of patients with previously compensated cirrhosis will develop acute deterioration resulting in multiorgan failure and high short-term mortality. Complications of cirrhosis frequently culminate in admissions to the ICU. This review advances the concept of acute-on-chronic liver failure as a distinct clinical entity. Recent findings: Recently, the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease and the European Association for the Study of the Liver created a research consortium to advance the state of the science of acute-on-chronic liver failure. The goal of this consortium is aimed at improving outcomes, identification of a subset of patients with cirrhosis at high risk for deterioration, and the inciting events that lead to this deterioration. Liver transplant remains the only curative option for advanced cirrhosis; however, the limited number of available organs necessitates innovations in the care of advanced liver disease. Liver replacement therapies have not as yet demonstrated reduction in mortality, but have demonstrated improvements in other measures. Large-scale prospective studies of cirrhosis are required. Summary: Acute-on-chronic liver failure may be a distinct clinical entity with a potential for reversibility when identified early and managed with aggressive critical care support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-169
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Critical Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • acute-on-chronic liver failure
  • cirrhosis
  • critical care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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