Hepatitis A virus can cause liver damage ranging from mild illness to fulminant hepatic failure, constituting 0.35% of all cases of fulminant liver failure. While rates of spontaneous remission are higher for hepatitis A, recent outbreaks attributable to vaccine shortages in highly populated urban cities plagued by insufficient affordable housing and inaccessible sanitation, and changes in the epidemiology of viral strains have resulted in increased hospitalizations and deaths. While the prognosis for patients with FHF has improved since the introduction of transplantation, the decision to transplant is often difficult to reach. We present five patients with HAV and subsequent FHF, one of whom successfully received a liver transplant. We have reviewed all published cases of HAV FHF in the literature and report ten patients, seven of whom received liver transplantation. There are few predictive models that attempt to distinguish between fulminant hepatitis A and spontaneous recovery. Patients found to have positive hepatitis A IgM, encephalopathy, worsening LFT's and coagulation should be monitored closely and referred to transplant centers urgently for management.
Keywords: fulminant hepatitis; hepatitis A; liver failure; liver transplant; transplant evaluation; viral hepatitis.
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