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AGA Clinical Practice Update on the Use of Vasoactive Drugs and Intravenous Albumin in Cirrhosis: Expert Review.

Gastroenterology 2023 November 18
DESCRIPTION: Cirrhosis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and worldwide. It consists of compensated, decompensated, and further decompensated stages; median survival is more than 15 years, 2 years, and 9 months for each stage, respectively. With each stage, there is progressive worsening of portal hypertension and the vasodilatory-hyperdynamic circulatory state, resulting in a progressive decrease in effective arterial blood volume and renal perfusion. Vasoconstrictors reduce portal pressure via splanchnic vasoconstriction and are used in the management of variceal hemorrhage. Intravenous (IV) albumin increases effective arterial blood volume and is used in the prevention of acute kidney injury (AKI) and death after large-volume paracentesis and in patients with spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP). The combination of vasoconstrictors and albumin is used in the reversal of hepatorenal syndrome (HRS-AKI), the most lethal complication of cirrhosis. Because a potent vasoconstrictor, terlipressin, was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, and because recent trials have explored use of IV albumin in other settings, it was considered that a best practice update would be relevant regarding the use of vasoactive drugs and IV albumin in the following 3 specific scenarios: variceal hemorrhage, ascites and SBP, and HRS.

METHODS: This expert review was commissioned and approved by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute Clinical Practice Updates Committee and the AGA Governing Board to provide timely guidance on a topic of high clinical importance to the AGA membership. It underwent internal peer review through standard procedures of Gastroenterology. These Best Practice Advice statements were drawn from a review of the published literature and from expert opinion. Some of the statements are unchanged from published guidelines because of lack of new evidence in the literature. Because systematic reviews were not performed, these Best Practice Advice statements do not carry formal ratings regarding the quality and evidence or strength of the presented considerations. Best Practice Advice Statements BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 1: Vasoactive drugs should be initiated as soon as the diagnosis of variceal hemorrhage is suspected or confirmed, preferably before diagnostic and/or therapeutic endoscopy. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 2: After initial endoscopic hemostasis, vasoactive drugs should be continued for 2-5 days to prevent early rebleeding. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 3: Octreotide is the vasoactive drug of choice in the management of variceal hemorrhage based on its safety profile. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 4: IV albumin should be administered at the time of large-volume (>5 L) paracentesis. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 5: IV albumin may be considered in patients with SBP. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 6: Albumin should not be used in patients (hospitalized or not) with cirrhosis and uncomplicated ascites. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 7: Vasoconstrictors should not be used in the management of uncomplicated ascites, after large-volume paracentesis or in patients with SBP. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 8: IV albumin is the volume expander of choice in hospitalized patients with cirrhosis and ascites presenting with AKI. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 9: Vasoactive drugs (eg, terlipressin, norepinephrine, and combination of octreotide and midodrine) should be used in the treatment of HRS-AKI, but not in other forms of AKI in cirrhosis. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 10: Terlipressin is the vasoactive drug of choice in the treatment of HRS-AKI and use of concurrent albumin can be considered when accounting for patient's volume status. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 11: Terlipressin treatment does not require intensive care unit monitoring and can be administered intravenously through a peripheral line. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 12: Terlipressin use is contraindicated in patients with hypoxemia and in patients with ongoing coronary, peripheral, or mesenteric ischemia, and should be used with caution in patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure grade 3. The benefits may not outweigh the risks in patients with serum creatinine >5 mg/dL and in patients listed for transplantation with a Model for End-stage Liver Disease ≥35.

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