Forty patients with terminal cirrhosis and 40 patients with fulminant hepatic failure-all consecutively admitted-were studied with regard to incidence, types, and prognosis of complicating renal insufficiency. Renal failure was considered present when the serum creatinine was greater than 0.20 mmol/l. Of the patients with cirrhosis 26 (65%) developed renal failure. In 15 the type was functional, in three due to acute tubular necrosis, and in eight indeterminable. Of the patients with fulminant hepatic failure 22 (55%) had renal insufficiency; of these 13 had functional renal failure, five acute tubular necrosis, and in four the type was indeterminable. In both categories of patients, renal failure was equally frequent among patients with or without gastrointestinal bleeding and with or without ascites or diuretic therapy. The biochemical tests of liver function were similar in patients with or without renal failure in both categories. The mean renal blood flow in seven unselected patients with fulminant hepatic failure was reduced in the same order as previously observed in patients with cirrhosis. In terminal cirrhosis the mortality rate was 88% in the presence of renal failure, 71% in its absence (p greater than 0.05), while the same figures in fulminant hepatic failure were 100% and 67% (p less than 0.05). The incidence, relative frequency, and prognosis of renal failure were not different in the two conditions, indicating identical pathophysiological circumstances.
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