Older age is considered a poor prognostic factor in acute liver failure (ALF) and may still be considered a relative contraindication for liver transplantation for ALF. We aimed to evaluate the impact of older age, defined as age ≥ 60 years, on outcomes in patients with ALF. One thousand one hundred twenty-six consecutive prospective patients from the US Acute Liver Failure Study Group registry were studied. The median age was 38 years (range, 15-81 years). One thousand sixteen patients (90.2%) were younger than 60 years (group 1), and 499 (49.1%) of these had acetaminophen-induced ALF; this rate of acetaminophen-induced ALF was significantly higher than that in patients ≥ 60 years (group 2; n = 110; 23.6% with acetaminophen-induced ALF, P < 0.001). The overall survival rate was 72.7% in group 1 and 60.0% in group 2 (not significant) for acetaminophen patients and 67.9% in group 1 and 48.2% in group 2 for non-acetaminophen patients (P < 0.001). The spontaneous survival rate (ie, survival without liver transplantation) was 64.9% in group 1 and 60.0% in group 2 (not significant) for acetaminophen patients and 30.8% in group 1 and 24.7% in group 2 for non-acetaminophen patients (P = 0.27). Age was not a significant predictor of spontaneous survival in multiple logistic regression analyses. Group 2 patients were listed for liver transplantation significantly less than group 1 patients. Age was listed as a contraindication for transplantation in 5 patients. In conclusion, in contrast to previous studies, we have demonstrated a relatively good spontaneous survival rate for older patients with ALF when it is corrected for etiology. However, overall survival was better for younger non-acetaminophen patients. Fewer older patients were listed for transplantation.
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