Albumin Dialysis

MARS--does it stand the test of time?

Mullen KD, Dasarathy S.

Metab Brain Dis. 2004 Dec;19(3-4):223-8.



GI Division, MetroHealth Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44109, USA. kdm@po.cwru.edu

Artificial liver support systems have been tested for decades in the management of liver failure. Generally, after some promising results published as case series, the device either disappears or fails to show significant benefit in controlled trials. Recently, the molecular absorbent recycling systems (MARS) or extracorporeal albumin dialysis (ECAD) technique appears to have broken this trend. Responding to the title one could summarize by saying this technique so far has stood the test of time. Data in support of its use in acute liver failure (ALF) is still scant and difficult to assess. However, in a well known but not very well defined entity of acute on chronic liver failure (AOCLF) the ECAD technique has been shown to improve survival compared to a similar randomized control group receiving standard supportive therapy. This well tolerated liver support system has real potential for widespread application if further well designed multicenter clinical trials continue to support its effectiveness. Its future lies probably in the management of the moribund hospitalized patient on the transplant list awaiting a donor liver.