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Liver Critical Care

Most people with liver disease report abdominal pain. Pain in your liver itself can feel like a dull throbbing pain or a stabbing sensation in your right upper abdomen just under your ribs.

Your liver can keep working even if part of it is damaged or removed. But if it starts to shut down completely—a condition known as liver failure—you can survive for only a day or 2 unless you get emergency treatment.

For acute (sudden) liver failure, treatment includes: Intravenous (IV) fluids to maintain blood pressure; Medications such as laxatives or enemas to help flush toxins (poisons) out; Blood glucose (sugar) monitoring; glucose is given to the patient if blood sugar drops.

The liver performs several crucial functions: it filters toxins from the blood, metabolizes drugs, stores energy, fights infections, and helps with digestion. This football-sized organ is incredibly resilient, with the ability to repair and regenerate itself in order to continue performing its necessary functions.

Lee’s team found that while the causes and severity of acute liver failure hadn’t changed, survival had improved significantly, even without a liver transplant. Transplant-free survival was 33 percent in 1998. In 2013, it increased to 61 percent, the researchers said.