The prognostic significance of hyperlactatemia in young children with liver injury suspected to be attributed to repeated supratherapeutic doses of acetaminophen remain understudied.
We conducted a retrospective medical chart review including children aged <5 years admitted with hepatocellular injury. The study was conducted in Bardnesville Junction Hospital operated by Médecins Sans Frontières in Monrovia, Liberia.
We analyzed 95 children with liver injury in whom a blood lactate measurement on admission was available. Eighty children (84%) were aged <2 years; 49 children (52%) died during hospitalization. The median acetaminophen concentration on admission was 20 mg/L with 60 (70%) children presenting concentrations exceeding 10 mg/L. Median lactate was significantly higher in children who died (10.7 mmol/L; interquartile range (IQR): 8.5-15.7) than those who survived (6.1 mmol/L; IQR: 4.1-8.5), P value < 0.001). The optimal threshold obtained was 7.2 mmol/L with a sensitivity of 84% and specificity 70% (area under curve = 0.80). The previously established thresholds of 3.5 and 4 mmol/L lactate had very low specificity identifying non-survival in children included in this study.
In this setting, young children with ALF possibly attributed to acetaminophen toxicity were unlikely to survive if the venous blood lactate concentration exceeded 7.2 mmol/L.