Prognosis of hepatorenal syndrome – has it changed with current practice?


Professor P. Angeli, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Padua, Via Giustiniani 2, 35122 Padova, Italy.


The Consensus Conference on Hepatorenal Syndrome (HRS) organized by the International Ascites Club in 1994 redefined HRS, introduced new diagnostic criteria that are now widely accepted, and proposed the distinction between two types of HRS: type 1 and type 2. Before the introduction of the new therapeutic options, the median survival of patients with type 1 HRS was only 1.7 weeks, and 6–12 months in patients with type 2 HRS. Liver transplantation (LT) was the first therapeutic option to change the prognosis of cirrhotic patients with HRS and 5-year survival after LT in patients with HRS is only slightly less than that of transplanted patients without HRS and markedly increased when compared to survival in nontransplanted patients with HRS. Nevertheless, a large proportion of patients die before LT is possible because of the poor prognosis of HRS and the prolonged waiting times in most transplant centres. Other therapeutic approaches were therefore developed to increase survival in patients with HRS. Vasoconstrictors and transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) are the most promising. The administration of vasoconstrictors together with albumin has been shown to reverse type 1 HRS and even to completely normalize renal function in 60–70% of treated patients. To date, four studies assessing TIPS in the management of type 1 HRS have been reported and TIPS insertion was technically successful in all of them. Given the shortage of donors for LT, vasoconstrictor therapy and TIPS strategies may be considered as a bridge to LT in patients with type 1 HRS.