What Factors Affect a Liver Failure Prognosis?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill
Excessive bruising is a symptom of liver failure.
Excessive bruising is a symptom of liver failure.

Various factors may impact a liver failure prognosis, primarily the illness causing the problems as well as the overall health and age of the patient. Those with additional conditions or incurable liver disease generally have a much poorer prognosis than others. The availability of a donor liver, in the event that one is needed, also plays a large role in the prognosis of liver failure.

Many times dialysis is needed to take over normal filtering functions of the liver following a liver failure diagnosis.
Many times dialysis is needed to take over normal filtering functions of the liver following a liver failure diagnosis.

"Liver failure" refers to the cessation of the liver to function properly. Many times dialysis is needed to take over the normal filtering functions of the liver until treatment or a transplant can be performed. There are many different illnesses or conditions which may eventually lead to liver disease and even organ failure, and many of these conditions are preventable. Risk factors for liver failure can include alcoholism, the use of recreational drugs, and a diet which is high in fat.

A swollen liver is often accompanied by liver failure.
A swollen liver is often accompanied by liver failure.

One of the main things which affects a liver failure prognosis is the disease or condition which caused the liver to fail. Cirrhosis of the liver and hepatitis are often less likely to be successfully cured or treated without a transplant. Fatty liver or liver failure related to the dysfunction of another organ, such as the kidneys, may be more easily treated if the underlying condition is cured.

Because the liver filters toxins and waste from the blood, if the organ fails to work properly a person can become seriously ill.
Because the liver filters toxins and waste from the blood, if the organ fails to work properly a person can become seriously ill.

The overall health and age of a patient also affects the liver failure prognosis by a large degree. Those with additional health problems or illnesses often have a harder time recovering from liver disease. This is especially true for those who have chronic or life-threatening conditions, such as cancer or long-term kidney or heart failure.

Among patients who require a transplant, the accessibility of a donor organ may greatly affect the liver failure prognosis. Liver donors can come from a deceased patient who specified that he or she would like to be a donor, or from a live donor. Only a portion of a healthy and functioning liver is needed in order to do a transplant since both the liver portion and donor’s liver will replenish themselves over time. Most liver donors are family members of the patients.

In most cases, cirrhosis of the liver that leads to liver failure must be treated with a liver transplant.
In most cases, cirrhosis of the liver that leads to liver failure must be treated with a liver transplant.

Dialysis can sustain a patient for a limited amount of time, but if the underlying condition cannot be cured or stabilized, a transplant may be needed. Some patients remain on a transplant list for many months before a donor is found, although family members who are willing to donate are generally checked for compatibility first.

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    • Excessive bruising is a symptom of liver failure.
      Excessive bruising is a symptom of liver failure.
    • Many times dialysis is needed to take over normal filtering functions of the liver following a liver failure diagnosis.
      Many times dialysis is needed to take over normal filtering functions of the liver following a liver failure diagnosis.
    • A swollen liver is often accompanied by liver failure.
      A swollen liver is often accompanied by liver failure.
    • Because the liver filters toxins and waste from the blood, if the organ fails to work properly a person can become seriously ill.
      Because the liver filters toxins and waste from the blood, if the organ fails to work properly a person can become seriously ill.
    • In most cases, cirrhosis of the liver that leads to liver failure must be treated with a liver transplant.
      In most cases, cirrhosis of the liver that leads to liver failure must be treated with a liver transplant.
    • The patient's age and overall health greatly affects her or his liver failure prognosis.
      The patient's age and overall health greatly affects her or his liver failure prognosis.