Multi-organ failure is the acute life-threatening condition in which several vital organs fail simultaneously. In particular, these are the lungs, kidneys, liver and intestines. Triggers for multi-organ failure are usually either bacterial poisoning or accidents.
Patients suffering from multi-organ failure require immediate intensive medical care. Often, however, such a condition does not occur until the patient is in the intensive care unit. Even if it is recognized directly and immediate action is taken, the condition often leads to death.
Multi-organ failure due to an accident can be seen as a kind of chain reaction in which the failure of one organ also causes the failure of another. In bacterial poisoning, on the other hand, toxins spread throughout the body in a very short time, causing severe inflammation in the organs.
Symptoms can vary greatly depending on which organs are experiencing insufficiency. Common manifestations include a rapid rise or fall in body temperature, a yellowish or bluish discoloration of the skin, restlessness and confusion, and trembling of the hands.
As a result of multiple organ failure, the functions of the failed organs must be compensated in part by intensive care interventions. On the one hand, this may involve the patient being connected to and dependent on machines, or it may involve the removal of entire organs. In addition, the condition may require an induced coma if there is a lack of oxygen to the brain. Often, the damage of multiple organ failure is irreversible.
Treatment depends on the trigger. If the cause is a bacterial infection, the focus of inflammation must be removed as quickly as possible. This is done either by various dialyses or by taking antibiotics. If the organs are severely injured in an accident, the only option usually left is mechanical support of the organs. Even if the patient is saved from the life-threatening situation, these people have a significantly shortened life expectancy afterwards.