Article Text

Acetaminophen Dose Does Not Predict Outcome in Acetaminophen-Induced Acute Liver Failure
  1. Blake Gregory, BA,
  2. Anne M. Larson, MD,
  3. Joan Reisch, PhD,
  4. William M. Lee, MD,
  5. The Acute Liver Failure Study Group
  1. From the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, TX.
  1. Received November 6, 2009, and in revised form February 28, 2010.
  2. Accepted for publication February 28, 2010.
  3. Reprints: Blake Gregory, BA, 4515 Normandy #2, Dallas, TX 75205. E-mail: beg81{at}
  4. Supported by the National Institutes of Health (U-01-DK58369).


Background Acetaminophen is a dose-dependent toxin. Prognosis in severe acute liver injury is related presumably in part to the dose ingested. We sought to assess the value of acetaminophen dosing information in patients with acute liver failure (ALF) due to acetaminophen toxicity to determine the role of dose as a prognostic indicator.

Methods Prospective data from 113 patients with ALF having single-time-point ingestions of acetaminophen were analyzed. Multivariate and χ2 tests were used to determine the relationship of dose to clinical outcome. We also used the Mann-Whitney U test to compare prognosis and survival in ALF with acetaminophen dose ingested.

Results Multivariate and χ2 analyses failed to show any relationship between acetaminophen dose and spontaneous survival. A separate analysis showed no correlation between acetaminophen dose and clinical prognostic indicators.

Conclusions Dose of acetaminophen ingested did not seem to play a role in prognosis. The most important prognostic factor was coma grade on admission to study. Acetaminophen dosing information is not always obtainable. When it is, it adds little to the clinical assessment. Severity of encephalopathy is a more reliable indicator of prognosis in these critically ill patients.

Key Words
  • acetaminophen
  • acute liver failure
  • N-acetylcysteine

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