Prometheus--a new extracorporeal system for the treatment of liver failure

J Hepatol. 2003 Dec;39(6):984-90. doi: 10.1016/s0168-8278(03)00468-9.


Background/aims: Extracorporeal detoxification systems for supportive therapy of liver failure have recently gained much interest. We herein report results from the first clinical application of Prometheus, a new liver support system in which albumin-bound substances are directly removed from blood by special adsorber. In a simultaneous step, high-flux hemodialysis is performed. We assessed safety, adsorber efficiency and clinical efficacy of the Prometheus system.

Methods: Eleven patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure and accompanying renal failure were treated with Prometheus on 2 consecutive days for >4 h.

Results: Prometheus treatment significantly improved serum levels of conjugated bilirubin, bile acids, ammonia, cholinesterase, creatinine, urea and blood pH. There were no significant changes in hemoglobin and platelet levels, whereas leucocytes increased without signs of systemic infection. No treatment-related complications except a blood pressure drop in two patients with systemic infection were noted. In one patient (Child-Pugh score: 15) Prometheus treatment could not be completed due to onset of uncontrolled bleeding 16 h after dialysis.

Conclusions: Prometheus is a safe supportive therapy for patients with liver failure. A significant improvement of the biochemical milieu was observed already after two treatments. Prospective controlled studies with the Prometheus system are necessary to evaluate hard clinical end-points.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Extracorporeal Circulation / instrumentation*
  • Female
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy / mortality
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy / therapy
  • Hepatorenal Syndrome / mortality
  • Hepatorenal Syndrome / therapy
  • Humans
  • Liver Failure, Acute / mortality
  • Liver Failure, Acute / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sorption Detoxification / instrumentation*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bilirubin