Diagnosis and treatment of hepatorenal syndrome

P Ginès
Baillière's Best Practice & Research. Clinical Gastroenterology 2000, 14 (6): 945-57
Hepatorenal syndrome (HRS) is a common complication of advanced cirrhosis characterized not only by renal failure due to a marked vasoconstriction of the renal circulation but also by marked alterations in systemic haemodynamics and activity of endogenous vasoactive systems. The pathogenesis of HRS is not completely known but it is probably the result of an extreme underfilling of the arterial circulation secondary to an arterial vasodilation located in the splanchnic circulation. Besides the renal circulation all other extrasplanchnic vascular beds appears to be vasoconstricted. The diagnosis of HRS is currently based on the exclusion of non-functional causes of renal failure. Prognosis of patients with HRS is very poor. Liver transplantation is the best option in selected patients, but is seldom applicable due to the short survival expectancy of most patients with HRS, particularly those with the progressive type (type I HRS). Therapies introduced during the last few years, such as transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunts or, particularly, vasoconstrictor drugs with preferential effect on the splanchnic circulation (V1 receptor agonists) are very effective in improving renal function and reverting HRS. However, the impact of the improvement of renal function on the natural course of HRS is unknown. Finally, the development of HRS after spontaneous bacterial peritonitis can be effectively prevented by the administration of albumin together with antibiotic therapy.

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