Pediatric acute liver failure (PALF) is a rare, rapidly progressive clinical syndrome with significant morbidity and mortality. The phenotype of PALF manifests as abrupt onset liver dysfunction, which can be brought via disparate etiology. Management is reliant upon intensive clinical care and support, often provided by the collaborative efforts of hepatologists, critical care specialists, and liver transplant surgeons. The construction of an age-based diagnostic approach, the identification of a potential underlying cause, and the prompt implementation of appropriate therapy can be lifesaving; however, the dynamic and rapidly progressive nature of PALF also demands that diagnostic inquiries be paired with monitoring strategies for the recognition and treatment of common complications of PALF. Although liver transplantation can provide a potential life-saving therapeutic option, the ability to confidently determine the certainness that liver transplant is needed for an individual child has been hampered by a lack of adequately tested clinical decision support tools and accurate predictive models. Given the accelerated progress in understanding PALF, we will provide clinical guidance to pediatric gastroenterologists and other pediatric providers caring for children with PALF by presenting the most recent advances in diagnosis, management, pathophysiology, and associated outcomes.
Investigator, CHEO Research Institute