Hyponatremia: clinical associations, prognosis, and treatment in cirrhosis

Exp Clin Transplant. 2013 Feb;11(1):3-11. doi: 10.6002/ect.2012.0147.


Hyponatremia has long been associated with worsened clinical outcomes in patients with cirrhosis and those awaiting liver transplant. However, in the last several years, new modalities of therapy, particularly aquaretics known as "vaptans," and comprehensive prognostic models have been increasingly studied in the hopes of bolstering serum sodium levels and altering liver transplant candidate status. To examine the most recent, comprehensive, and pertinent data, a systematic review of both prospective and retrospective studies available on MEDLINE was completed, which provided information detailing clinical associations, treatment, and prognoses seen in those with hyponatremia in cirrhosis. Clinical associations with hyponatremia in cirrhosis including hepatorenal syndrome and hepatic encephalopathy were identified. For hyponatremia in those awaiting liver transplant, tolvaptan is an effective agent in temporarily normalizing serum sodium levels with minimal risk of osmotic demyelination. Prognostic models incorporating serum sodium levels were better able to predict urgency and need for transplant; yet the benefits and posttransplant effects of redefining a liver allocation score have yet to be established.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Benzazepines / therapeutic use
  • Comorbidity
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy / epidemiology*
  • Hepatorenal Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Hyponatremia / diagnosis*
  • Hyponatremia / epidemiology*
  • Hyponatremia / therapy
  • Liver Cirrhosis / epidemiology*
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Sodium / blood
  • Tolvaptan


  • Benzazepines
  • Tolvaptan
  • Sodium