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Unlike kidney dialysis, liver dialysis removes toxins that are insoluble in water and it supports part of the functions normally performed by the liver.
In some cases the liver is then able to regenerate itself, whilst in others the liver dialysis helps to buy time while waiting for a suitable liver transplant donor.
There are various forms of liver dialysis, the most common being MARS (Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System), which was developed at a university hospital in Germany, where MHL can introduce new patients.
Despite this, there are still relatively few centres in the world where liver dialysis is performed and three are even fewer which are available to visiting patients from outside the hospital's respective catchment areas.
Firstly liver dialysis requires access to major blood vessels so the process must be conducted in a hospital setting, where support services are instantly available.
Secondly, after the first treatment the patient feels considerable relief, as toxins are removed from the blood stream, but over the following hours toxins are drawn out from the rest of the body and symptoms return.
A second dialysis is then performed, normally the following day to remove these and this cycle may need to repeated a few times as then patient's body is cleared of toxins.
Thirdly, once this cycle of treatments is complete the patient can return home and it may be several months before any more treatment is required, if at all.
How liver dialysis differs from kidney dialysis
MHL Liver Dialysis Enquiry Service
There is also a rival system Prometheus and clinical trials are now ongoing using systems based upon cultured human liver cells.
In practical terms there are several key differences between liver dialysis and kidney dialysis
MHL can introduce new patients to liver dialysis centres in a number of locations in Europe and North America.
We are developing this service rapidly and we hope to include centres in Asia and Australasia soon, but this is not yet available.
if you know of hospitals offering liver dialysis in these or other areas outside our present scope, please let us know and we will consider including these in our service.