chronic liver failure

Last reviewed 01/2018

Chronic hepatic failure occurs where there is a deterioration in liver function superimposed on chronic liver disease. The acute deterioration may be based on a number of pathological processes, including the underlying disease process itself or a different process which undermines the functional reserve of the liver such as infection, haemorrhage or electrolyte imbalance - especially hypokalaemia.

The actual deterioration in the patient's state may occur very rapidly - the patient may progress through confusion and stupor into coma in a matter of hours.

This sort of hepatic failure is also called decompensation, referring to the fact that previous problems with liver function had been well compensated.