Bench-to-bedside review: current evidence for extracorporeal albumin dialysis systems in liver failure

Crit Care. 2007;11(3):215. doi: 10.1186/cc5922.


Acute liver failure (ALF) and acute on chronic liver failure (AoCLF) carry a high mortality. The rationale for extracorporeal systems is to provide an environment facilitating recovery or a window of opportunity for liver transplantation. Recent technologies have used albumin as a scavenging molecule. Two different albumin dialysis systems have been developed using this principle: MARS (Molecular Adsorbent Recirculation System) and SPAD (Single-Pass Albumin Dialysis). A third system, Prometheus (Fractionated Plasma Separation and Adsorption), differs from the others in that the patient's albumin is separated across a membrane and then is run over adsorptive columns. Although several trials have been published (particularly with MARS), currently there is a lack of controlled studies with homogenous patient populations. Many studies have combined patients with ALF and AoCLF. Others have included patients with different etiologies. Although MARS and Prometheus have shown biochemical improvements in AoCLF and ALF, additional studies are required to show conclusive benefit in short- and long-term survival. The appropriate comparator is standard medical therapy rather than head-to-head comparisons of different forms of albumin dialysis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Albumins*
  • Equipment Design
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods
  • Humans
  • Liver Failure, Acute / therapy*
  • Renal Dialysis / instrumentation*
  • Renal Dialysis / methods
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Albumins