NYMC Faculty Publications

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Art. ID.: 4393064

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Emergency Medicine


Background: Acute liver failure can result from acetaminophen overdose, viral infection, toxins, and other disease conditions. Liver transplant is available in limited fashion and the criteria are strict as to who should get an available liver. N- Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) has been used in non-acetaminophen induced liver failure with success. Here we report a case of acute liver failure from cocaethylene that was reversed with NAC along with other medical therapy. Case Presentation: A 50-year-old female patient presented to the Emergency Department (ED) with a two-day history of coffee ground vomiting and hematemesis. She reported occasional substance abuse and heavy alcoholism. She reported shortness of breath and chest pain from the recurrent forceful vomiting. The rest of the review of systems was unremarkable except a fall from intoxication. Physical examination revealed anicteric conjunctiva and nontender abdomen and her vital signs were within normal limits. Initial blood work revealed acute liver and renal failure. The patient was started with general medical management and liver transplant service rejected the case due to active substance abuse. She underwent brief hemodialysis and was started on NAC. Over the course of her hospital stay her liver function and kidney function improved significantly and patient was discharged to home. Conclusion: In cases where liver transplant is not an option for various reasons including active substance abuse, a trial of N-Acetyl Cysteine may be beneficial and should be considered in the Emergency Department.

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Originally published in Case Reports in Emergency Medicine, 2018, 4393064. The original material can be found here.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.