Management of hepatorenal syndrome

P A McCormick, Carmel Donnelly
Pharmacology & Therapeutics 2008, 119 (1): 1-6
Hepatorenal syndrome is a form of acute or sub-acute renal failure which develops in patients with chronic liver disease. In contrast to other forms of acute renal failure it may be reversible using pharmacological agents. The pathogenesis involves splanchnic vasodilatation and intense renal vasoconstriction. Increasing intravascular volume and prolonged treatment with vasoconstrictor drugs reverses renal failure in a significant proportion of patients. Agents currently used include the vasopressin analogues terlipressin and the alpha1-adrenoceptor agonist midodrine. The somatostatin analogue octreotide has been used in combination therapy but is ineffective as monotherapy. Intravenous albumin is an important adjunctive treatment both in the prevention and treatment of hepatorenal syndrome. Increasing intravascular volume using TIPS (transjugular intrahepatic stent shunt) is effective in some patients and may be useful in maintaining patients who have initially responded to pharmacological therapy. Despite improvements in survival, long term prognosis is still poor and generally depends on the degree of reversibility of the underlying liver disease or access to liver transplantation.


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