Acute degeneration or necrosis of the liver is a relatively infrequent condition at any age and is extremely rare in early infancy. It is most commonly designated as acute yellow atrophy, a term which is a misnomer and is neither explanatory nor descriptive of the condition, which is not atrophy but necrosis. Other synonyms which have been used are the following: icterus gravis, malignant jaundice, acute parenchymatous hepatitis and parenchymatous degeneration of the liver. The designation acute degeneration of the liver or acute necrosis of the liver seems the most appropriate.
The condition was first described about the sixteenth century. It has been estimated that in about 50 per cent of all cases it occurs in the third decade and in 80 per cent between the ages of 10 and 40 years. Rolleston and McNee1 in 1929 collected 42 cases in which it occurred in children under 10 years