Bailliere's Best Practice & Research. Clinical Gastroenterology vol:26 issue:1 pages:17-26
Non-biological artificial liver support (ALS) devices aim to remove albumin-bound and water-soluble toxins arising as a result of liver failure. They do not directly improve the liver synthetic capacity. The currently most used devices combine haemodialysis with albumin dialysis (MARS) or plasma separation and filtration (Prometheus). These devices have been used as a treatment for different types of liver failure: acute liver failure, acute-on-chronic liver failure and primary non- or poor-function after liver transplantation. Overall these devices are found to be safe. The following beneficial effects have been documented: improvement of jaundice, amelioration of haemodynamic instability, reduction of portal hypertension, lowering of intracranial pressure and improvement of hepatic encephalopathy. However, recently multicentre controlled trials failed to show a beneficial effect on transplant-free survival. Therefore the use of these devices at present seems only justified as a bridge to liver transplantation.