Total plasma exchange (TPE) corrects coagulopathy in patients with liver disease and removes hepatotoxins/cytokines. This improvement is transient but can be used as a bridge until an organ is identified for liver transplantation (LTx) or the liver itself regenerates. Our aim was to retrospectively assess the efficacy of TPE in fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) and its impact on liver function tests. Between 1995 - 2001, 39 patients with FHF who had undergone TPE were reviewed. FHF was defined according to the O'Grady criteria based on the duration of encephalopathy as well as jaundice. TPE was performed using the Cobe Spectra TPE (Gambro) in Liver Intensive Care Unit, continued on a daily basis, until either adequate clinical response was achieved, the patient expired, or transplantation occurred. INR, PTT, Fibrinogen, ALT, AST, GGT, BUN, Ammonia, and Total Bilirubin were analyzed before and after TPE. Student's t-test and chi-square test and ANOVA were used for statistical analysis. Thirty-nine patients with FHF (31 females, 8 males with mean age of 32.3, range: 7 - 64) underwent TPE. Coagulopathy, hyperbilirubinemia, hyperammonemia were significantly improved (P < 0.05). Twenty-one patients survived (54%), 12 required LTx, and 18 patients (including one after LTx) expired. TPE was found to be significantly effective for correction of coagulopathy and improvement of liver tests. This intervention can be considered for temporary liver support until recovery or liver transplantation.
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