Hepatorenal syndrome (HRS) is a form of impaired kidney function that occurs in individuals with advanced liver disease. Individuals with hepatorenal syndrome do not have any identifiable cause of kidney dysfunction and the kidneys themselves are not structural damaged.
Therefore, hepatorenal syndrome may be referred as a “functional” form of kidney impairment. In fact, if the kidney of an individual with hepatorenal syndrome were to be transplanted into an otherwise healthy individual, it would function normally. Hepatorenal syndrome is classified into to two distinct types. Type I is a rapidly progressive condition that leads to renal failure; type II does not have a rapid course.
Although the hepatorenal syndrome occurs in individuals with liver disease, the exact cause of the condition is unknown. Researchers have noted that blood circulation is abnormal in individuals with hepatorenal syndrome.
The arteries that circulate oxygenated blood from the lungs to the rest of the body (systemic circulation) widen in contrast to the arteries of the kidney, which narrow causing a decrease in the blood flow through the kidney. Many affected individuals also have high blood pressure of the branches of the portal vein (portal hypertension), the main vein that carries blood from the intestines to the liver.
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