Bilirubin-adsorption in 23 critically ill patients with liver failure

Int J Artif Organs. 2004 Aug;27(8):717-22. doi: 10.1177/039139880402700810.


Purpose: Previous studies suggest that high levels of bilirubin exert cytotoxic, neurotoxic and encephalopathic effects that themselves may lead to further deterioration of liver function and multiorgan failure. Although extracorporeal BA is not a causal therapy, there are case reports of clinical benefits of BA. The present retrospective study investigated the clinical utility and effectiveness of BA in 23 patients with liver failure.

Methods: Twenty-three patients (61+/-11 years) with excessive hyperbilirubinemia (>25 mg/dL) after liver transplantation (n=7), partial liver resection (n=12) and others (n=4) were treated with BA (3.6 liters plasma per BA, BR350, Asahi) and followed for 45+/-8 days.

Results: A mean of 6.6 treatments (3-16) were performed per patient. On average, a single BA treatment reduced bilirubin-levels from 31+/-12 to 23.7+/-9 mg/dL (p<0.001). Levels of bile acid were reduced from 41.8+/-6 to 33.5+/-5 mg/dL. The 30-day mortality was 50%. BA was able to halt and stabilize the progressive increase in bilirubin levels in all patients. In contrast to survivors, non-survivors were characterized by a repeated rapid rise in bilirubin levels after cessation of BA treatment.

Conclusions: BA is able to stabilize or decrease bilirubin levels in patients with liver failure. Our experience suggests that BA is a safe and promising short-term treatment option for patients with acute deterioration of hepatic function.

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bilirubin / blood*
  • Creatinine / analysis
  • Hemoperfusion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hyperbilirubinemia / therapy*
  • Liver Failure / blood*
  • Liver Failure / mortality
  • Liver Failure / therapy
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Middle Aged
  • Plasmapheresis
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Creatinine
  • Bilirubin