Hepatorenal Syndrome With Acute Kidney Injury: Diagnosis and Medical Management

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives: To review the current definitions and diagnostic criteria for acute kidney injury (AKI) and type 1 hepatorenal syndrome (HRS) now termed HRS-AKI and discuss the challenges in deciding the most appropriate medication regimens to treat patients with HRS-AKI. Data sources: PubMed (inception to April 2023) with bibliographies of retrieved articles searched for additional articles; organizational websites for clinical practice guidelines (CPGs). Study selection and data extraction: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating albumin and vasoconstrictors for HRS-AKI. Data synthesis: A major change in the most recent revision of definitions and diagnostic criteria for HRS-AKI is the elimination of the set cutoff serum creatinine values for AKI. This change should be considered when comparing studies of HRS-AKI over time. Albumin has been administered to both vasoconstrictor treatment and placebo groups in all recent RCTs; however, there has never been a large RCT evaluating a no-albumin group. Most prospective trials comparing a midodrine/octreotide combination or norepinephrine to placebo or terlipressin have enrolled less than 100 patients limiting any conclusions regarding clinically important outcomes. Terlipressin with albumin has shown mixed results for complete HRS-AKI reversal with no reductions in crude mortality but adverse effect concerns involving ischemic and pulmonary events. Relevance to patient care and clinical practice: Type 1 hepatorenal syndrome with acute kidney injury is a potentially life-threatening syndrome with diagnostic and treatment challenges. Albumin plus a vasoconstrictor has become the routine HRS-AKI treatment even though there has not been a large RCT evaluating a no-albumin group. Terlipressin is the vasoconstrictor of choice for HRS-AKI in current CPGs, but it has adverse effect concerns and, until recently, was not available in the United States. Conclusions: In conjunction with changes in the definitions and diagnostic criteria for HRS-AKI, debate continues regarding the optimal therapy for HRS-AKI, particularly considering recent trials demonstrating ischemic and pulmonary adverse events with terlipressin used in combination with albumin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-164
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • acute kidney injury
  • albumin
  • hepatorenal syndrome
  • midodrine octreotide
  • norepinephrine
  • terlipressin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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