1 Department of Internal Medicine II, University of Saarland, Homburg/Saar, Germany.
Renal failure is a severe complication in patients with liver cirrhosis. It is associated with increased mortality and morbidity. Diagnosis is a challenge because it is mainly based on serum creatinine, which does not seem to be an ideal measure of renal function in cirrhosis. The definition of renal failure in these patients has been changed for optimizing treatment and for improving outcome and prognosis. The new criteria are based on the adapted KDIGO (Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes) staging system. The diagnosis of acute kidney injury (AKI) is based on an absolute increase of serum creatinine of >0.3 mg/dl from baseline within 48 h or an increase of >50% from baseline. This means smaller changes in serum creatinine in a shorter time frame which may lead to an early identification of renal failure in cirrhotic patients. The former cirrhotic-specific term hepatorenal syndrome (HRS) is now part of the new diagnostic criteria and is called HRS-AKI. The diagnostic criteria of HRS have changed due to the new criteria for AKI. Due to these criteria for HRS, the medical treatment will be started earlier. First-line treatment for renal AKI-HRS is the combination of a vasoconstrictor and albumin. Most data exist for terlipressin, a vasopressin analog, as vasoconstrictor. Besides this medical treatment, there are other options like the placement of a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt, renal replacement, and artificial extracorporeal liver support systems. However, these alternative treatment options have limitations. Liver transplantation is the treatment of choice for these patients and represents the definitive treatment. Using new biomarkers like urinary neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin or interleukin-18 for renal failure in cirrhosis should help to differentiate the causes of renal failure and provide an indication regarding the prognosis.