1 a Department of Hepatology and Gastroenterology , Algemeen Stedelijk Ziekenhuis ASZ AALST and Ghent University , Ghent , Belgium.
2 b Department of Critical Care Medicine , Saint-Luc University Hospital, Université Catholique de Louvain , Brussels , Belgium.
Hepatorenal syndrome (HRS) is a unique form of acute kidney injury seen in cirrhotic patients and associated with significant mortality and morbidity. Despite its impact, diagnosis and treatment of HRS remains challenging and this review aims to assess and compare the available vasoconstrictors used as first-line treatment for HRS. Areas covered: A literature review was undertaken on the use of vasoconstrictors in HRS, using PubMed/Medline database searches of: 'hepatorenal syndrome', 'HRS' and 'vasoconstrictor'. Expert commentary: Current diagnosis criteria are based on an exclusion-based approach using serum creatinine as a biomarker. However, this method relies on the measurement over a sustained period of time resulting in delayed treatment. Using urine biomarkers, the revised acute kidney injury guidelines and novel plasma expanders may improve diagnosis and the implementation of time-sensitive management of HRS. Vasoconstrictors are the first-line treatment for HRS, in which terlipressin is the vasoconstrictor of choice supported by current guidelines and a substantial clinical evidence base over other vasoconstrictors, such as noradrenaline or midodrine plus octreotide. Future developments in dosage and administrative techniques for terlipressin may have an important role to play in maintaining clinical efficacy whilst improving tolerability in the management of HRS.