Objective: To determine the causes and outcome of all patients with acute liver failure (ALF) in Sweden 1994-2003 and study the diagnostic accuracy of King's College Hospital (KCH) criteria and the model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score with transplant-free deaths as a positive outcome.
Research design and methods: Adult patients in Sweden with international normalized ratio (INR) of >or=1.5 due to severe liver injury with and without encephalopathy at admission between 1994-2003 were included.
Results: A total of 279 patients were identified. The most common cause of ALF were acetaminophen toxicity in 42% and other drugs in 15%. In 31 cases (11%) no definite etiology could be established. The KCH criteria had a positive-predictive value (PPV) of 67%, negative-predictive value (NPV) of 84% in the acetaminophen group. Positive-predictive value and negative-predictive value of KCH criteria in the nonacetaminophen group were 54% and 63% respectively. MELD score>30 had a positive-predictive value of 21%, negative-predictive value of 94% in the acetaminophen group. The corresponding figures for the nonacetaminophen group were 64% and 76% respectively.
Conclusions: Acetaminophen toxicity was the most common cause in unselected patients with ALF in Sweden. KCH criteria had a high NPV in the acetaminophen group, and in combination with MELD score<30 predicts a good prognosis in acetaminophen patients without transplantation.