Outcome and prognostic markers in severe drug-induced liver disease

Hepatology. 2005 Aug;42(2):481-9. doi: 10.1002/hep.20800.


The combination of high aminotransferases (hepatocellular injury) and jaundice has been reported to lead to a mortality rate of 10% to 50% for different drugs, a phenomenon known as "Hy's rule." However, Hy's rule has never been validated, and limited data exist on predictors for outcome in hepatocellular and other forms of drug-induced liver disease. All reports of suspected hepatic adverse drug reactions received by the Swedish Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee (1970-2004) were reviewed. Cases with bilirubin levels 2 or more times the upper limit of normal (ULN) were analyzed. A total of 784 cases were retrieved-409 with hepatocellular injury, 206 with cholestatic injury, and 169 with mixed liver injury. The mortality/transplantation rate was 9.2%, and bilirubin (median 18.7 x ULN [IQR 12.6-25]; range 4.5-42) was higher (P < .0001) in the deceased/transplant recipients compared with the surviving patients (median 5.5 x ULN [IQR 3.3-9.5]; range 2.0-38). A total of 7.8% with cholestatic and 2.4% with a mixed pattern died. The mortality rate in hepatocellular injury for different drugs varied from 40% (6 of 15) for halothane to 0% (0 of 32) for erythromycin, in total 12.7%. Using logistic regression analysis, age, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and bilirubin were found to independently predict death or liver transplantation in the hepatocellular group, whereas among patients with cholestatic/mixed liver injury, bilirubin was the only independent predictor. In conclusion, hepatocellular jaundice has a high but variable mortality rate, depending on the drug involved. The AST and bilirubin levels are the most important predictors of death or liver transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury*
  • Cholestasis / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jaundice / chemically induced
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / mortality
  • Liver Failure / chemically induced
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis