Understanding Hepatic (Liver) Failure

Your liver, one of the body's largest solid organs, is a factory and a filter, performing more than 400 different functions in healthy adults. The many metabolic disorders that can occur with liver (hepatic) failure demonstrate the complexity of functions and the central role your liver has in your body's metabolism for food and fuel. Click here for more information about the liver's many functions and here to view an interactive presentation on the digestive system and the liver.

There are many diseases that can affect the liver's ability to function properly:

  • Toxins, alcohol, poor diet or infection can damage the liver
  • Inherited disorders may affect liver function by causing harmful substances, such as iron and copper, to collect in the liver
  • Viral infections, such as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, can cause liver cell inflammation, cell death and ultimately lead to liver destruction or scarring
  • Tumors in the liver or bile ducts

Liver failure occurs when the liver does not perform as it should. Chronic liver disease is an ongoing liver injury that lasts more than six months. Acute injury is a brief but very severe trauma to the liver that generally resolves or takes care of itself. However, some people suffer an acute injury that is so grave that it leads to liver failure.

Our multidisciplinary team in the Transplant and Liver Centers work together to treat people with deteriorating liver function and hepatobiliary disease. People benefit from medical, surgical or interventional procedures - or a combination of all therapies - precisely tailored for each individual.