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Background. To evaluate new therapies for human fulminant hepatic failure, a suitable large animal model is needed. The purpose of this study was to develop a reversible surgical model of acute hepatic liver failure by transient ischemia in pigs.
Materials and methods. Under general anesthesia, an end-to-side portacaval shunt was performed in 17 pigs and tape was laid around the hepatoduodenal ligament. Two days after construction of the functional portacaval shunt, 13 ambulant pigs underwent transient total liver ischemia by tightening of the tape around the hepatoduodenal ligament for 5.5 h. During ischemia, 10% glucose was continuously infused intravenously to prevent hypoglycemia.
Results. Ten animals (77%) died with hepatic coma after a mean duration of 22.5 ± 1.9 h. The 3 remaining animals survived more than 5 days and were sacrificed. In dying animals, encephalopathy was observed 14 ± 1.7 h after the onset of ischemia. During ischemia, similar progressive decrease of fibrinogen, platelets, prothrombin time, and factors V and VII activities was observed in dying and surviving animals. Just before death, mean prothrombin and factors V and VII activities were respectively 22 ± 2, 21 ± 4.4, and 24 ± 5%. At 22 h, plasma ammonia and lactate levels were respectively 705 ± 93 μmol/L and 10.5 ± 0.4 mmol/L in dying animals and 249 ± 75 μmol/L and 2.9 ± 0.1 mmol/L in surviving animals (P < 0.01). Estimation of the percentage liver cells necrosed was 74 ± 4.7% in the survivors and 86 ± 5.5% in animals who died of hepatic coma (NS).
Conclusions. This model is reproducible and reversible and should allow the quantitative evaluation of new technologies, such as bioartificial liver, for the support of hepatic failure in humans.
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