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What is Liver Failure?

Liver failure occurs when the liver stops working. Liver failure can occur suddenly (acute) or over a long time (chronic). It is rare, but it’s a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

You’re at risk for acute liver failure if you:

  • Take too much acetaminophen
  • Have certain diseases or infections, such as hepatitis, Wilson disease, or herpes simplex virus
  • Drink a lot of alcohol
  • Have poor blood flow to the liver

Symptoms of Acute Liver Failure

  • Diarrhea
  • Discomfort on your right side, just below your ribs
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea

As the disease gets worse, you may also become confused and very sleepy. Other symptoms include:

  • Bruising or bleeding easily
  • Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Vomiting blood
  • Buildup of fluid in your belly (abdomen)

Schedule an appointment with a UR provider.

Call (585) 275-4711

UR Medicine's Treatments for Liver Failure

To diagnose the problem, we’ll ask about your health history and any possible exposure to toxins. You will also need a physical exam. Your care provider may check for signs of hepatitis, such as jaundice, fatigue, and abdominal pain.

You may also need:

  • Blood tests. These check your liver enzymes and bilirubin levels. They also measure your blood's ability to thicken (coagulate). This is called prothrombin time.
  • Imaging tests. You may have a CT scan or MRI. These check your liver.

Treatment for acute liver failure depends on the underlying cause.

If your care provider thinks you took too much acetaminophen, you will probably be given activated charcoal to reduce how much medicine is absorbed in your gastrointestinal tract. Or you may be given N-acetylcysteine, which helps with an acetaminophen overdose.

Other medications or steroids might be prescribed for other causes.

If no treatment works, you might need a liver transplant.

We regularly serve as a valuable second (and even third and fourth) opinion resource for patients referred from far and wide. Other area hospitals and gastroenterologists often depend on our physicians to handle their most complex and challenging cases.

What Sets Us Apart?

The Center for Liver Disease offers a complete range of liver disease services, including both transplant and non-transplant hepatology. We’re the only liver transplant center in the region.

We provide the most thorough care available for gastrointestinal and liver disease in the region, including the most advanced endoscopic technology available under one roof for managing even the most complex liver disorders.

As a multidisciplinary center, we have all the specialists you might need—including hepatologists, oncologists, rheumatologists, and others—without having to send you to another center.

Our team-based decision-making approach speeds your care while involving doctors from many different disciplines. We’re often able to see patients within a day.

And our doctors make a practice of following up on patients, often calling them between appointments.


Our care team is here for you. Find a UR Medicine expert and get care now.

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We serve you in the Rochester metropolitan area and surrounding region.

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4 locations

Gastroenterology & Hepatology - Brighton

Surgery Center at Sawgrass
180 Sawgrass Drive, Suite 230, 2nd Floor
Rochester, NY 14620

Konar Center for Digestive and Liver Disease - Rochester

Ambulatory Care Center at Strong Memorial Hospital
601 Elmwood Avenue, Ambulatory Care Center, 4th & 5th Floor
Rochester, NY 14642

Gastroenterology & Hepatology - Brockport

Ambulatory Surgical Center at Strong West
156 West Avenue, Suite 107
Brockport, NY 14420

Palliative Care - Rochester

Wilmot Cancer Institute
601 Elmwood Avenue, 1st Floor, Suite C
Rochester, NY 14642

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