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Which patients benefit from hemodialysis therapy in hepatorenal syndrome?


Dr Andreas Kribben, Department of Nephrology, University Clinic Essen, Hufelandstr. 55, 45122 Essen, Germany. Email:


Background and Aim:  Hepatorenal syndrome (HRS) occurs in patients with advanced liver cirrhosis and has a poor outcome. The aim of the present study was to investigate which patients with HRS are likely to benefit from hemodialysis.

Methods:  Data were collected prospectively from 30 patients with Child-Pugh C liver cirrhosis and HRS. Patients were either treated with continuous veno-venous hemodialysis (CVVHD) if they were mechanically ventilated, or with intermittent hemodialysis (HD) if they were not mechanically ventilated. Prognosis was assessed by the Child-Pugh and by the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score. The primary aim of the study was the analysis of overall and 30-day patient survival during hemodialysis therapy. To identify predictive factors of survival, variables obtained before the initiation of dialysis therapy were evaluated.

Results:  Patients’ 30-day survival was 8/30 (median survival time 21 days). Among patients treated with mechanical ventilation, 30-day survival time was 0/15 while 8/15 patients without mechanical ventilation survived more than 30 days (P < 0.001). Using a multivariate model, the relative hazards for serum albumin, international normalized ratio (INR) and catecholamine therapy were not different from one another (P > 0.05), indicating that these parameters were not independent predictors of survival. Mechanical ventilation was an independent risk factor for 30-day (relative hazard 6.6 [1.6–27.7], P < 0.001) and overall survival (relative hazard 6.3 [1.5–26.5], P = 0.01). Child-Pugh (P < 0.01) and the MELD (P < 0.01) score were predictive for overall survival independent of mechanical ventilation.

Conclusions:  Patients with HRS without mechanical ventilation may benefit from hemodialysis, whereas hemodialysis seems to be futile in patients with mechanical ventilation.