First Use of the Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System Technique on Patients with Hypoxic Liver Failure After Cardiogenic Shock

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The Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System (MARS) has been proven to prolong survival in patients with hepatorenal syndrome. MARS is a modified dialysis that uses an albumin containing dialysate, which is recirculated and perfused online through charcoal and anion exchanger columns. It allows the selective removal of albumin bound substances.

Despite advances in medical therapy and technology, the prognosis of patients with cardiogenic shock remains poor. Mortality rates are as high as 80%, often because of persistent multiple organ failure. To determine whether patients with hypoxic liver failure after cardiogenic shock after cardiac surgery might benefit from MARS, we performed a prospective, randomized, controlled, single center study. The primary objective was to prove that MARS improves survival.

This article is a report on the interim analysis of the first 27 patients included between August 2000 and December 2001; 14 patients were in the MARS group, and 13 patients were in the non-MARS group. All had bilirubin levels greater than 8 mg/ml. Both groups had a similar risk profile. The MARS group received MARS for 3 consecutive days—if bilirubin was still greater than 6 mg/dl afterward, MARS was continued. The non-MARS group received conventional therapy.

We had seven survivors in the MARS group (50%) compared with four (32%; p = ns) in the non-MARS group. We conclude that despite the limited number of patients included in this analysis, MARS can be recommended for patients with acute, hypoxic liver failure because it might prolong survival. Further studies in similar patient cohorts are needed to verify our results.

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