Hepatorenal syndrome

Andrés Cárdenas, Vicente Arroyo
Annals of Hepatology 2003, 2 (1): 23-9
Hepatorenal syndrome is complication of advanced cirrhosis characterized by renal failure, changes in systemic blood pressure, and increased activity of endogenous vasoactive systems. Renal failure is due to severe renal vasoconstriction developing in the late stages of cirrhosis. The pathogenesis of hepatorenal syndrome is the result of an extreme underfilling of the arterial circulation secondary to an arterial vasodilation located in the splanchnic circulation. This underfilling triggers a compensatory response with activation of vasoconstrictor systems. The diagnosis of hepatorenal syndrome is based on established diagnostic criteria aimed at excluding nonfunctional causes of renal failure. The prognosis of patients with hepatorenal syndrome is very poor. Liver transplantation is the best option in selected patients, but it is not always applicable due to the short survival expectancy and donor shortage. Pharmacological therapies based on the use of vasoconstrictor drugs (terlipressin, midodrine, octreotide or noradrenline) are the most promising in aims of successfully offering a bridge to liver transplantation. Prevention of hepatorenal syndrome with albumin infusion is recommended in patients with spontaneous bacterial peritonitis and with pentoxifylline in patients with acute alcoholic hepatitis.

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