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Liver failure - Definition


Liver failure is a decrease in the functional mass of the liver following the destruction of liver cells called hepatocytes. Liver failure can be acute as in sudden poisoning with paracetamol for example, or more often chronic as in the evolution of viral hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, or cancer. All functions of the liver are reduced, which explains the clinical signs: jaundice, skin lesions called spider veins (small, visible, and star-shaped vessels), fatigue, bad breath, neurological signs... Liver failure can be quantified by blood tests, including measurement transaminases that reflect an active lysis of liver cells, or by evaluating the amount of certain substances synthesized by the liver, such as prothrombin time is decreased in proportion to the destruction.