Background & aims: Hepatorenal syndrome is common in patients with advanced cirrhosis and constitutes a major problem in liver transplantation. There is no effective medical treatment for hepatorenal syndrome.
Methods: Forty-six patients with cirrhosis and hepatorenal syndrome, hospitalized in a tertiary care center, were randomly assigned to receive either terlipressin (1-2 mg/4 hour, intravenously), a vasopressin analogue, and albumin (1 g/kg followed by 20-40 g/day) (n = 23) or albumin alone (n = 23) for a maximum of 15 days. Primary outcomes were improvement of renal function and survival at 3 months.
Results: Improvement of renal function occurred in 10 patients (43.5%) treated with terlipressin and albumin compared with 2 patients (8.7%) treated with albumin alone (P = .017). Independent predictive factors of improvement of renal function were baseline urine volume, serum creatinine and leukocyte count, and treatment with terlipressin and albumin. Survival at 3 months was not significantly different between the 2 groups (terlipressin and albumin: 27% vs albumin 19%, P = .7). Independent predictive factors of 3-month survival were baseline model for end-stage liver disease score and improvement of renal function. Cardiovascular complications occurred in 4 patients treated with albumin alone and in 10 patients treated with terlipressin and albumin, yet permanent terlipressin withdrawal was required in only 3 cases.
Conclusions: As compared with albumin, treatment with terlipressin and albumin is effective in improving renal function in patients with cirrhosis and hepatorenal syndrome. Further studies with large sample sizes should be performed to test whether the improvement of renal function translates into a survival benefit.