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Renal failure in cirrhotic patients: role of terlipressin in clinical approach to hepatorenal syndrome type 2

Alessandria, Carlo; Venon, Wilma Debernardi; Marzano, Alfredo; Barletti, Claudio; Fadda, Maurizio; Rizzetto, Mario

European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology: December 2002 - Volume 14 - Issue 12 - p 1363-1368
Original Articles: Liver

Objectives  Renal failure secondary to hepatorenal syndrome or to organic renal disease occurs frequently in cirrhotic patients with portal hypertension. The present prospective study investigates the usefulness of terlipressin in both the diagnostic and the therapeutic approach to cirrhotics with renal failure.

Patients and methods  Sixteen patients were studied: 11 with hepatorenal syndrome type 2 (group 1) and five with organic renal disease (group 2). All received terlipressin (1 mg/4 h intravenously) for 7 days. Subsequently, 12 patients (nine from group 1 and three from group 2) underwent a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt.

Results  Terlipressin significantly improved renal function (serum creatinine, 1.8 ± 0.8 versus 2.4 ± 0.9 mg/dl; blood creatinine clearance, 53 ± 8 versus 21.3 ± 8.7 ml/min; P < 0.05) in group 1 [8/11 patients (73%) versus 1/5 (20%) of group 2; P < 0.05]. The only patient in group 2 who responded to terlipressin had a mixed renal dysfunction. Renal function improved significantly after transjugular portosystemic shunt in all patients who responded to terlipressin.

Conclusions Terlipressin administration significantly improves renal function in cirrhotic patients with hepatorenal syndrome type 2 but not in organic kidney failure. By providing the critical information that a patient's kidney function is (or is not) reversible, a trial with terlipressin may be useful when selecting cirrhotic patients with renal failure as candidates for a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt or liver transplantation.

Department of Gastroenterology, San Giovanni Battista Hospital, Torino, Italy

Correspondence to Alfredo Marzano, Department of Gastroenterology, San Giovanni Battista Hospital, Bramante 88, 10126, Torino, Italy Tel: +39 11 6335561; fax: +39 11 6335927; e-mail:

Received 27 March 2002 Revised 9 July 2002 Accepted 31 July 2002

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.