- Top of page
- Cirrhosis: a multiple organ syndrome
- Renal dysfunction in cirrhosis
- Treatment of renal failure in cirrhosis
- Concluding remarks
Acute kidney injury (AKI) is frequent in patients with cirrhosis. AKI and hyponatraemia are major determinants of the poor prognosis in advanced cirrhosis. The hepatorenal syndrome (HRS) denotes a functional and potential reversible impairment of renal function. Type 1 HRS, a special type of AKI, is a rapidly progressive AKI, whereas the renal function in type 2 HRS decreases more slowly. HRS is precipitated by factors such as sepsis that aggravate the effective hypovolaemia in decompensated cirrhosis, by lowering arterial pressure and cardiac output and enhanced sympathetic nervous activity. Therefore, attempts to prevent and treat HRS should seek to improve liver function and to ameliorate arterial hypotension, central hypovolaemia and cardiac output, and to reduce renal vasoconstriction. Ample treatment of HRS is important to prevent further progression and death, but as medical treatment only modestly improves long-term survival, these patients should always be considered for liver transplantation. Hyponatraemia, defined as serum sodium <130 mmol/L, is common in patients with decompensated cirrhosis. From a pathophysiological point of view, hyponatraemia is related to an impairment of renal solute-free water excretion most likely caused by an increased vasopressin secretion. Patients with cirrhosis mainly develop hypervolaemic hyponatraemia. Current evidence does not support routine use of vaptans in the management of hyponatraemia in cirrhosis.