Fulminant hepatic failure after repeated exposure to isoflurane anesthesia: A case report

Elizabeth M. Brunt, Heather White, J. Wallis Marsh, Barbel Holtmann, Marion G. Peters

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69 Scopus citations


A previously healthy but obese 26‐yr‐old woman was diagnosed as having hepatic dysfunction 17 days after the third of three consecutive exposures to isoflurane anesthesia for paranasal sinus surgery. Serum laboratory findings included elevated aminotransferases and bilirubin. Radiographical evaluations showed no evidence of extrahepatic disease. Serological studies were negative for acute viral infections, and serum copper was normal. The patient's condition deteriorated over the ensuing 17 days, with hyperreflexia, hypoglycemia and a rapid fall in serum aminotransferases with a concomitant rise in bilirubin level and prothrombin time despite maximal medical support. The liver volume as shown by computed tomography fell from 1,290 cm3 to 680 cm3 over 6 days. The patient underwent successful orthotopic liver transplantation 25 days after onset of symptoms. Histopathological examination of the resected liver showed submassive and massive necrosis, with a few foci of microvesicular steatosis and ultrastructural evidence of mitochondrial abnormalities. Although we found insufficient evidence to prove that this case was caused by isoflurane anesthesia, the clinical course and histopathological findings are similar to those in hepatic injury caused by halothane anesthesia. Therefore we report this as a possible case of fulminant hepatic failure resulting from isoflurane anesthesia. (HEPATOLOGY 1991;13:1017–1021.)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1017-1021
Number of pages5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1991


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