COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

[Treatment of ascites, hyponatremia and hepatorenal syndrome in liver cirrhosis]

Daniel Ackermann
Therapeutische Umschau. Revue Thérapeutique 2009, 66 (11): 747-51
19885792
Ascites and hyponatremia are frequent complications of advanced liver cirrhosis. Over 50 % of cirrhotic patients develop ascites and about one third gets hyponatremic. The development of ascites is due to an increased sodium retention in the kidneys, leading to expansion of extracellular volume and accumulation of fluid in the peritoneum. Hyponatremia is related to an impairment in the renal capacity to eliminate solute-free water that causes water retention that is disproportionate to the sodium retention, thus causing a reduction in serum sodium concentration. The exact pathogenesis of sodium retention is not clear, yet. The main pathogenic factor responsible for hyponatremia is a nonosmotic hypersecretion of vasopressin from the neurohypophysis. There is evidence suggesting that hyponatremia predisposes to hepatic encephalopathy. Impairment in glomerular filtration rate in hepatorenal syndrome is due to renal vasoconstriction. Treatment of ascites consists of potassium sparing diuretics, loop diuretics, and/or paracentesis. The current standard of care of hyponatremia based on fluid restriction is unsatisfactory. Currently, a new family of drugs, known as vaptans, which act by specifically antagonizing the effects of vasopressin on the V2 receptors located in the kidney, is evaluated for their role in the management of hyponatremia. Because data on long-term administration are still incomplete, they cannot be used routinely, yet. Liver transplantation is the treatment of choice for hepatorenal syndrome. As bridge to transplantation long-term administration of intravenous albumin and vasoconstrictors can be used.

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