Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System Effectively Replaces Hepatic Function in Severe Acute Liver Failure

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Summary Background Data:

Patients with severe acute liver failure (ALF) have extreme physiologic dysfunction and often die if transplantation is not immediately available. Patients may be supported with MARS (Baxter International Inc., Deerfield, IL) until transplantation or spontaneous recovery occurs. We present the largest series in the United States of MARS therapy as temporary hepatic replacement for ALF.


MARS was used to support patients with severe liver trauma (SLT), in ALF patients as a bridge to transplantation (BTT), and as definitive therapy for toxic ingestion or idiopathic liver failure (DT) in a level 1 trauma center and large transplant center. Patient demographics, etiology of ALF, and laboratory values were recorded. Endpoints were patient survival ± liver transplant and/or recovery of liver function.


Twenty-seven patients with severe ALF received MARS therapy. Five patients with SLT had a 60% survival with recovery of liver and renal function. Thirteen patients received MARS as a BTT, of which 9 were transplanted with a 1-year survival of 78% (program overall survival 85% at 1 year). All 4 who were not transplanted expired. Nine patients with ALF from toxic ingestion received MARS as DT with liver recovery and survival in 67%. MARS therapy resulted in significant improvement in liver function, coagulation, incidence of encephalopathy, and creatinine.


MARS therapy successfully replaced hepatic function in ALF allowing time for spontaneous recovery or transplantation. Spontaneous recovery was remarkably common if support can be sustained.

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