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Hepatorenal syndrome

  • Definition

    Hepatorenal syndrome is a condition in which there is progressive kidney failure in a person with cirrhosis of the liver. It is a serious and often life-threatening complication of cirrhosis.

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Hepatorenal syndrome occurs when there is a decrease in kidney function in a person with a liver disorder. Because less urine is removed from the body, nitrogen-containing waste products build up in the bloodstream (azotemia).

    The disorder occurs in up to 10% of patients hospitalized with liver failure. It is caused by the mounting effects of liver damage and leads to kidney failure in people with:

    • Acute liver failure
    • Alcoholic hepatitis
    • Cirrhosis

    Risk factors include:

    • Blood pressure that falls when a person rises or suddenly changes position (orthostatic hypotension)
    • Diuretic use
    • Gastrointestinal bleeding
    • Infection
    • Recent abdominal fluid tap (paracentesis)