Review article: pharmacological treatment of the hepatorenal syndrome in cirrhotic patients

L Dagher, D Patch, R Marley, K Moore, A Burroughs
Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 2000, 14 (5): 515-21
Renal failure is common in patients who are dying from end-stage cirrhosis, developing in 40-80% of all patients. Where there is no anatomical or pathological cause for the renal failure, it is termed the hepatorenal syndrome. When the hepatorenal syndrome develops, it will only recover when there is some degree of improvement in liver function. Thus for most patients this will occur only after liver transplantation, although the transplantation mortality is increased in this group. Hepatorenal syndrome is a common complication of alcoholic hepatitis, and this group is unusual in that with time and abstinence, significant recovery of liver function may occur. There is therefore a need for supportive therapy to allow time for some recovery of liver function in patients with alcoholic hepatitis and hepatorenal syndrome. Similarly, patients may need support whilst waiting for liver transplantation. This article reviews the pathophysiology and treatment of hepatorenal syndrome.

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