Emory is one of a few centers in the U.S., and the most experienced in the country, to offer MARS® (Molecular Adsorbents Recirculating System), a novel system that filters out more toxins from the blood than conventional dialysis.
Over the past few years, Emory has used MARS to treat more than 150 patients with acute liver failure and acute-on-chronic liver failure. It has been used:
- in facilitating intrinsic hepatic recovery following liver failure
- as a bridge to liver transplantation
- in the post-transplant phase of primary graft dysfunction and non-function
How MARS Works
MARS combines albumin dialysis with conventional dialysis to clear both albumin-bound and water- soluble toxins from the blood. The system works by first passing the patient’s unfiltered blood through the MARS FLUX dialyzer, which uses clean albumin dialysate to draw water-soluble and protein-bound toxins from the blood through a specialized membrane.
The toxin-rich albumin dialysate passes through a conventional dialysis system to remove water-soluble toxins, and then through an activated carbon absorber and an anion exchanger to remove albumin-bound toxins such as bile acids, bilirubin and fatty acids. The cleansed blood that passes via the MARS FLUX dialyzer is returned to the patient’s circulatory system to attract more toxins.
In addition to removing both albumin-bound and water-soluble toxins from the blood, MARS helps manage fluids, electrolytes and pH balance, affords a safety barrier between blood and absorber columns, helps control glucose and lactate levels, and provides an immediate means of regenerating albumin.
Multiple small, uncontrolled trials have demonstrated the efficacy of MARS treatment for a number of specific indications, including hepatic encephalopathy, pruritus induced by severe cholestasis or jaundice, and Hepatorenal syndrome. The MARS system may also be effective for patients with acute exacerbation of chronic liver failure. Larger randomized and controlled studies are required to directly assess the efficacy of MARS compared to conventional treatment.
The utilization of MARS therapy highlights Emory’s institutional commitment and expertise to providing comprehensive, leading edge liver critical care services related to liver disease and hepatic failure.
As a matter of fact, Emory’s Liver Transplant Program currently ranks #1 in Georgia and #2 in the nation for patient survival paired with transplant volume. Our program is at the forefront of clinical excellence and technology related to the management of liver failure and liver transplantation. That is the Emory difference.
To learn more about the MARS system or to refer a patient: