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Does the pediatric intensivist treat children with liver failure?

Alvin Jeffery
Pediatric Nursing

Yes, a pediatric intensivist can manage liver failure. However, whether or not an intensivist is needed will depend on the type of liver failure present.

Acute (new onset) liver failure due to problems such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose, hepatitis, trauma, and some forms of cancer may require critical care treatment by an intensivist because liver failure can affect other organ systems as well (such as the blood and the brain).

Chronic (long-standing) liver failure due to problems such as hepatitis, long-term use of certain medications, and some forms of cancer typically do not require treatment by an intensivist unless an acute problem (such as bleeding) develops.

Bleeding can develop because some of the components of the blood which contribute to clotting (clotting factors) are formed in the liver. When liver failure is present, these clotting factors are not produced as efficiently.

Problems with the brain develop because the liver is responsible for eliminating ammonia from the blood, a substance which is always present but continuously eliminated. As the amount of ammonia in the blood increases, the brain is harmed.

which is always present but continuously eliminated.  As the amount of ammonia in the blood increases, the brain is harmed.  

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.