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Terlipressin therapy for reversal of type 1 hepatorenal syndrome: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials


  • Declaration of conflict of Interest: None of the authors have any potential conflicts of interest.

Dr Sashidhar Sagi, 301 University Boulevard, John Sealy Annex, Room 4.112, Mail Route 0570 University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, USA 77555. Email:


Background and Aim:  Hepatorenal syndrome (HRS) is a serious complication of advanced liver disease and carries a poor prognosis. Recent trials have indicated that terlipressin may be effective in reversing HRS. Our aim was to evaluate the efficacy of terlipressin therapy in reversing type 1 HRS defined as a serum creatinine <1.5 mg/dL during treatment.

Methods:  Randomized controlled trials in which patients with type 1 HRS received at least 3 days of terlipressin therapy and albumin in the intervention arm were included after a systematic search of the published English reports. Studies with other vasoconstrictor therapies in the control group were excluded.

Results:  A total of 223 patients with HRS type 1 in four different trials, were included in the final analysis. Alcohol-related cirrhosis was the most common underlying etiology. The risk ratio for reversal in type 1 HRS with terlipressin therapy was 3.66 (95% confidence interval 2.15–6.23). Recurrence of HRS was low (8%). Serious side-effects requiring discontinuation of therapy were seen only in 6.8% of patients on terlipressin therapy. There was a trend towards improved transplant-free survival at 90 days in the terlipressin group (relative risk 1.86 95% confidence interval 1.0–3.4, P = 0.05).

Conclusions:  Terlipressin is effective in reversing HRS type 1. Recurrence of HRS is rare with at least 14 days of therapy. Serious side-effects requiring discontinuation of therapy are less common. There appears to be a survival benefit in patients with HRS treated with terlipressin.