Limited Progress in Hepatorenal Syndrome (HRS) Reversal and Survival 2002–2018: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Mary J. Thomson, Arthur Taylor, Pratima Sharma, Anna S. Lok, Elliot B. Tapper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Introduction: Type 1 hepatorenal syndrome (HRS) is a fatal complication of cirrhosis. Treatments trend toward HRS reversal, but few show clear mortality benefit. We sought to quantify the progress—or lack thereof—in improving outcomes of type 1 HRS over time. Methods: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing type 1 HRS outcomes including (a) overall survival (liver transplant-free survival if reported) and (b) HRS reversal. Each study arm was analyzed separately to look at changes in outcomes over time. RCTs published comparing medical treatments for type 1 HRS were searched using several databases through July 31, 2019. Results: Fourteen RCTs (28 arms) involving 778 participants enrolled between 2002 and 2018 were included. Twelve RCTs measured HRS reversal. In conjunction with albumin (or plasma expander), the most common medications used were terlipressin (13 arms), antibiotics (7), norepinephrine (6), dopamine (4), and midodrine/octreotide (3). Pooled survival rate was 34.6% (95% CI 26.4–43.8), and pooled HRS reversal rate was 42.8% (95% CI 34.2–51.9). Regression analyzing the incremental effect of the year the RCT was initiated showed that more recent studies were not associated with improved survival (OR 1.02, 95% CI 0.94–1.11, p = 0.66) or HRS reversal rates (OR 1.03, 95% CI 0.96–1.11, p = 0.41). There was no survival improvement when RCTs with endpoints assessed ≤ or > 1 month were analyzed separately with respective OR of 1.07 (95% CI 0.95–1.20, p = 0.26) and 0.97 (95% CI 0.85–1.12, p = 0.70). Conclusion: Outcomes have not improved for patients with type 1 HRS since 2002. There is a need to improve prevention and treatment of type 1 HRS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1539-1548
Number of pages10
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge Carol Shannon, who assisted with creating the search strings for this review.

Funding Information:
This study was funded in part by an NIH Training Grant in Epidemiology and Health Services (T32 DK062708—MJT) and an NIH Grant from the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (KL2 TR002241—EBT).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Acute kidney injury
  • Albumin
  • Antibiotics
  • Cirrhosis
  • Hepatorenal syndrome
  • Hypertension
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Portal
  • Renal failure
  • Vasopressors


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