ANMC now offers lifesaving MARS therapy in Critical Care Unit

July 3, 2015

Adding lifesaving treatment options for our patients is a high priority for ANMC. Recently, the ANMC Critical Care Unit (CCU) purchased a Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System (MARS), which removes protein-bound and water-soluble toxins with albumin dialysis for patients with liver failure. The new system takes less time than traditional MARS treatment and has reduced the average length of stay for patients receiving the treatment. MARS treats toxin-induced liver failure from overdoses or poisoning, and grade 3 to 4 hepatic encephalopathy from liver failure. Many patients seen in the CCU are potential candidates for MARS, but only a select few meet the criteria. To date, nine patients in the CCU have met these criteria. For these patients, successful treatment has meant another chance or additional time for end-of-life planning. Standard MARS treatments take three to five days. The average length of CCU stay for this type of patient prior to MARS was 14.9 days, with a maximum stay of up to 46 days. After the addition of MARS therapy, the average length of stay in the CCU for this specific type of patient was 9.25 days. “Less time in the CCU hopefully equates to less time in the hospital and a quicker release back to home,” said Delinda West, CCU Director. MARS therapy is used in more than 45 countries, and ANMC is the fifteenth facility in the U.S. to offer this crucial and sometimes lifesaving treatment. Many chemicals and drugs can be toxic to the liver. Once the liver is destroyed, options eventually come down to transplant or palliative care. For catastrophic intake of chemical substances that are toxic to the liver, a third option may be MARS therapy, which works similar to kidney dialysis in that it can filter out those toxins before permanent damage is done to the liver. MARS treatment does not change the overall outcome for chronic liver failure, meaning that it cannot cure liver disease or liver failure.

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