Liver dialysis

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Liver Dialysis Devices

•Molecular Adsorbents Recirculation System (MARS)
•Single Pass Albumin Dialysis (SPAD)
•Comparing MARS, SPAD, and Veno-venous haemodiafiltratio(CVVHDF)

Liver dialysis prognosis


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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Dildar Hussain, MBBS [2]

This article specifically discusses liver dialysis. For information regarding kidney dialysis or dialysis in general, please click here.


Liver dialysis is a type of artificial extracorporeal liver support. It is a new promising emerging therapeutic technique used for the detoxification treatment for liver failure and it has shown positive impact on the outcomes of hepatorenal syndrome. Liver dialysis follows the same principles of hemodialysis. The concerning matter during a liver failure is the accumulation of toxins in the blood stream which are not cleared by an injured liver. Based on this hypothesis, the elimination of albumin-bound substances such as bilirubin, bile acids, metabolites of aromatic amino acids, medium-chain fatty acids and cytokines has led to the invention of artificial filtration and adsorption devices. Several new devices are invented for this purpose such as Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System (MARS), Single Pass Albumin Dialysis (SPAD), Prometheus system and DIALIVE. Hemodialysis is used for renal failure which mainly eliminates water soluble toxins, but it can not eliminate the albumin bound toxins that accumulate in liver failure.


  • There has been an increase in interest in the research on extra-corporeal liver support within past 5 decades.
  • In the mid of 1990s, the liver dialysis was introduced.
  • In 2005, the first MARS unit was established in the Toronto General Hospital, Canada.
  • In 2017, the new liver dialysis device DIALIVE was introduced.
  • On 24 July 2017, the first patient to undergo liver dialysis with DIALIVE was recruited in London.
  • The researchers are expecting to obtain the regulatory approval for DIALIVE by 2019 or 2020.


Accepted indications for liver dialysis include the following:[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]


Contraindications for Liver dialysis include the following:

Liver Dialysis Devices

Artificial detoxification liver dialysis devices currently under clinical evaluation include:

  • Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System (MARS)
  • Single Pass Albumin Dialysis (SPAD)
  • Prometheus system

Molecular Adsorbents Recirculation System (MARS)

  • The Molecular Adsorbents Recirculation System (MARS) , its development was started at the University of Rostock in Germany and later was developed by Teraklin AG of Germany.
  • MARS is the best available extracorporeal liver dialysis device till date.
  • The MARS is in use for liver dialysis for approximately ten years.
  • The two separate dialysis circuits for MARS include:
Circuit Components Mechanism
Circuit 1 Human serum albumin Circuit one is connected to the patient's blood through a semipermeable membrane which contains two special filters that cleanse the albumin after it absorbs toxins from the patient's blood such as ammonia, aromatic amino acids, mercaptans, bilirubin, bile acids, cytokines, tryptophans and nitric oxide.
Circuit 2 Hemodialysis machine Circuit two cleanses the albumin from the first circuit before its re-circulation though the semipermeable membrane before it comes in contact with the patient's blood.

Single Pass Albumin Dialysis (SPAD)

  • SPAD is a simple method of albumin dialysis


  • It operates using standard renal replacement therapy machines without any additional perfusion pump system.
  • The patient’s blood passses through the circuit with a high flux hollow fiber hemodiafilter which is identical to the one used in the MARS system.
  • The auxillary side of the membrane is cleansed with an albumin solution in counter-directional flow, which is junked away after going through filtration.
  • Hemodialysis can be also be performed during the first circuit using the same high-flux hollow fibers.

Comparing MARS, SPAD, and Veno-venous haemodiafiltratio (CVVHDF)

  • In 2004, an in vitro comparison study was published regarding detoxification capacity of MARS, SPAD and continuous veno-venous haemodiafiltration (CVVHDF).[22]
Comparison between MARS, SPAD and CVVHDF
Device Detoxification capacity Cost effectivenss
Ammonia Bilirubin Bile acids Water soluble substances
MARS Significantly lower reduction Significantly lower reduction No significant differences No significant differences More Expensive (approximately € 2165)
SPAD Significantly greater reduction Significantly greater reduction No significant differences No significant differences Less Expansive (approximately € 656)
CVVHDF Significantly greater reduction Significantly lower reduction No significant differences No significant differences Cheap



  • The new liver dialysis device DIALIVE was introduced in 2017.[25]
  • Dialive is a new emerging system that consolidates albumin removal, replacement, and endotoxin removal.
  • The researchers are expecting to obtain the regulatory approval for DIALIVE in 2019 or 2020.
  • Among the animal models of liver failure it revealed that it is:[26]

Liver dialysis prognosis

  • At present liver dialysis is only thought to be a bridge for liver transplantation or liver regeneration.[27][28][29].
  • Liver dialysis is a new techinque and the prognosis of patients with liver failure is still guarded.
  • The survival rate with liver dialysis is up to thirty days.
  • Liver dialysis cannot support a patient for a longer period of time like renal dialysis.


The complications of liver dialysis are:

Related Chapters


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  2. Demetriou, Achilles A.; Brown, Robert S.; Busuttil, Ronald W.; Fair, Jeffrey; McGuire, Brendan M.; Rosenthal, Philip; Am Esch, Jan Schulte; Lerut, Jan; Nyberg, Scott L.; Salizzoni, Mauro; Fagan, Elizabeth A.; de Hemptinne, Bernard; Broelsch, Christoph E.; Muraca, Maurizio; Salmeron, Joan Manuel; Rabkin, John M.; Metselaar, Herold J.; Pratt, Daniel; De La Mata, Manuel; McChesney, Lawrence P.; Everson, Gregory T.; Lavin, Philip T.; Stevens, Anthony C.; Pitkin, Zorina; Solomon, Barry A. (2004). "Prospective, Randomized, Multicenter, Controlled Trial of a Bioartificial Liver in Treating Acute Liver Failure". Annals of Surgery. 239 (5): 660–670. ISSN 0003-4932. doi:10.1097/01.sla.0000124298.74199.e5. 
  3. Doria C, Mandalá L, Smith J, Vitale CH, Lauro A, Gruttadauria S, Marino IR, Foglieni CS, Magnone M, Scott VL (2003). "Effect of molecular adsorbent recirculating system in hepatitis C virus-related intractable pruritus". Liver Transpl. 9 (4): 437–43. PMID 12682899. doi:10.1053/jlts.2003.50055. 
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  6. Manz T, Ochs A, Bisse E, Strey C, Grotz W (2003). "Liver support--a task for nephrologists? Extracorporeal treatment of a patient with fulminant Wilson crisis". Blood Purif. 21 (3): 232–6. PMID 12784049. doi:10.1159/000070695. 
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  14. Rubik J, Pietraszek-Jezierska E, Kamiński A, Skarzynska A, Jóźwiak S, Pawłowska J, Drewniak T, Prokurat S, Grenda R, Kaliciński P (2004). "Successful treatment of a child with fulminant liver failure and coma caused by Amanita phalloides intoxication with albumin dialysis without liver transplantation". Pediatr Transplant. 8 (3): 295–300. PMID 15176968. doi:10.1111/j.1399-3046.2004.00170.x. 
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