BackgroundExtracorporeal liver support therapies (ELS) are technical options (for bridge-to-recovery as well as bridge-to-transplant) in patients with acute liver dysfunction (e.g. acute liver failure (ALF), acute-on chronic liver failure (AoCLF) or decompensated chronic liver disease (decomp. CLD)) to reduce effects of failing hepatic detoxification functions. The present study investigates the real-life utilization of ELS (annual incidences), mortality rates as well as data regarding specific populations of liver transplantation in Germany.MethodsData on patient cases receiving extracorporeal liver support therapy were identified in a nationwide data set from the Federal statistical Office of Germany from 1 January 2007 through 31 December 2015 and analyzed regarding in-hospital mortality, age- and sex-specific distribution and use of ELS in the context of liver transplantation. Mortality rates in patients with primary acute liver dysfunction and secondary acute liver dysfunction (in the context of cardiothoracic surgery) were evaluated.ResultsAnnual incidences of ELS use remained stable between 0.39/100.000 in 2007 and 0.47/100.000 ELS in 2015. In-hospital mortality rate was 51.49% in the 2886 evaluated patient cases. Mortality was higher in men (56.04%) than in women (43.70) in the observed time period between 2007 and 2015. ELS utilization and case-related liver transplantation rates were low (12.47%). Since 2012, the annual numbers for ELS therapy in cardiosurgical patients exceeded the frequency of ELS utilization in cases of primary liver dysfunction (mortality rates: 68.39% versus 40.63%).ConclusionsELS utilization remained stable between 2007 and 2015. Mortality rates are high in this patient population of acute liver dysfunction, especially in combination with case-related cardiothoracic surgery. ELS is rarely used in the setting of liver transplantation. In 2015, more than 50% of all ELS cases in Germany were performed in the context of cardiothoracic surgery.