The hepatorenal syndrome in liver transplant recipients

P Seu, A H Wilkinson, A Shaked, R W Busuttil
American Surgeon 1991, 57 (12): 806-9
The hepatorenal syndrome (HRS) is a well-known complication of liver failure, and medical treatment is usually not successful unless liver function can be improved. The authors review their experience with 130 adults undergoing orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) over a 20-month period to determine the incidence of HRS and its effects on patient outcome, need for hemodialysis (HD), and the degree of recovery of renal function. The clinical diagnosis of HRS preoperatively was made by using criteria to exclude prerenal azotemia, acute tubular necrosis, and primary renal diseases. Nineteen patients were identified as having the HRS for a preoperative incidence of 15.1 per cent. Overall, 41 of the 126 patients reviewed required postoperative HD, and the mortality in this group was 54 per cent. Fifty-eight per cent of the HRS patients were dialyzed postoperatively vs 28 per cent of non-HRS patients. The mean posttransplant creatinine improved over time in the HRS patients while it worsened slightly in the non-HRS group. At 12 weeks posttransplant, there was a significant difference in the mean creatinine levels (1.8 +/- 0.3 mg/dl vs 1.2 +/- 0.04 mg/dl, P = .001). However, at 24 weeks the small difference was not statistically significant between the two groups (1.6 +/- 0.15 mg/dl vs 1.3 +/- 0.06 mg/dl, P = NS). The current survival of the hepatorenal group is comparable to the nonhepatorenal patients at a follow-up of 6 to 25 months: 68 per cent vs 78 per cent, P = NS. The authors conclude that liver transplantation reverses the HRS, and that hepatorenal patients can undergo liver transplantation with outcomes comparable to nonhepatorenal patients.

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