Table of Contents
Definition of Hepatorenal Failure
Hepatorenal Failure – The progressive failure of the kidneys in people who have chronic liver failure. Doctors do not know what causes hepatorenal failure, also called hepatorenal syndrome, to develop though they do know the blood supply to the kidneys becomes suddenly and severely restricted.
Not enough blood flows through the kidneys for the kidneys to filter waste byproducts and toxins from the blood, and these substances accumulate in the blood. Because the kidneys play key roles in regulating blood pressure, hypertension (elevated blood pressure) may also develop.
The primary symptom of hepatorenal failure is diminished urine production in a person who has chronic liver failure. Symptoms of liver failure are also often present and typically include ascites (fluid retention in the abdominal cavity), jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the skin), and abnormal bleeding.
Blood and urine tests help evaluate liver and kidney function, and diagnostic imaging procedures such as abdominal ultrasound or computed tomography (ct) scan demonstrate the extent of physical damage to the liver and the kidneys.
Treatment aims to improve both liver and kidney functions. Renal dialysis often becomes necessary. In some people the kidneys remain healthy and return to full function when the underlying liver disease improves, such as might occur with liver transplantation.
When liver disease is severe, however, the progressive failure of the kidneys means the body loses nearly all of its ability to remove toxins and the risk of death is very high.
Page last reviewed: