Q What is the current status of liver support devices in the United States?
A Rhonda K. Martin, RN, MS, MLT(ASCP), CCRN, CNS/ANP-C, replies:
Liver disease now ranks as the eleventh leading cause of death in the United States,1 partly because of the peak in incidence of end-stage liver disease due to hepatitis C. Using a computer cohort simulation, Wong et al2 predict 193000 US deaths between 2010 and 2019 from complications of hepatitis C. An obvious need remains to support liver disease patients with devices that can serve as a bridge to liver transplantation or ideally to regeneration and recovery of native organ function.
The development and availability of liver support devices, however, have lagged behind those of other artificial organ support devices, such as renal dialysis equipment, ventilators, membrane oxygenators, and ventricular support devices. This delay is related to the complexity of liver functions and the...