UT Southwestern researchers say overdoses of acetaminophen cause most cases of acute liver failure

at 39 percent of cases were from acetaminophen overdose, and they also discovered that 13 percent were from idiosyncratic drug reactions; 12 percent were from viral hepatitis A and B; and 17 percent were of indeterminate cause.

"Acetaminophen is quite safe when taken accordingly to package recommendations," Lee said. "Eighty-three percent of our patients who developed acute liver failure had exceeded the daily maximum recommended dose of four grams."

While 68 percent of patients with acute liver failure related to acetaminophen overdose recovered with supportive care and 6 percent required transplantation, only 25 percent of patients with idiosyncratic drug reactions recovered and more than 50 percent required transplants once their nervous systems were damaged by liver function failure.

In 1997, Lee formed a consortium of liver centers, called the Acute Liver Failure Study Group, to increase research in this area. The scientific collaboration has made it possible for investigators to study the disease in greater depth.

Two former UT Southwestern researchers Drs. George Ostapowicz and Frank Schiodt also contributed to the study. Other collaborators are from Baylor University Medical Center; the Mayo Clinic; Gold Coast Hospital in Southport, Australia; Northwestern University; and the universities of Michigan, Washington, California-Los Angeles, California-San Francisco, Nebraska, and Pittsburgh.


Contact: Susan Morrison
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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