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Hepatology. 1994 Aug;20(2):362-9.

Renal duplex Doppler ultrasonography: a noninvasive predictor of kidney dysfunction and hepatorenal failure in liver disease.

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Department of Radiology, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor 48109-0030.


Hepatorenal failure, a well-recognized complication of established liver disease, is characterized by early renal hemodynamic changes (vasoconstriction) before clinically recognized kidney disease. This renal vasoconstriction (increased renal vascular resistance) should be detectable noninvasively by Doppler ultrasonography. We studied whether renal Doppler ultrasonography detects abnormalities in patients with nonazotemic liver disease and its prognostic value for subsequent kidney status. We observed by renal Doppler ultrasonography 180 patients who had liver disease without azotemia. A simple parameter, resistive index, was derived for each subject on the basis of Doppler waveform analysis. Traditional parameters used to assess patients with liver disease were also recorded at the time of Doppler ultrasonography. Subsequent kidney outcomes were kidney dysfunction (doubling of initial creatinine level to 1.5 mg/dl [133 mumol/L]) or more and the presence or absence of the hepatorenal syndrome. Abnormal results of Doppler examinations (elevated resistive index) were seen in 76 (42%) of the 180 patients. Kidney dysfunction developed in 55% (42/76) of the patients with an elevated resistive index and 6% (6/104) of those with normal results of Doppler study (p < 0.00005). Hepatorenal syndrome developed in 26% (20/76) of subjects with an elevated resistive index and 1% (1/104) of those with a normal resistive index (p < 0.00005). Cox regression analysis identified resistive index as a significant independent predictor of subsequent hepatorenal syndrome (p < 0.00005) and kidney dysfunction (p < 0.00005). Renal duplex Doppler ultrasonography can noninvasively identify a subgroup of nonazotemic patients with liver disease that is at significantly higher risk for subsequent development of kidney dysfunction and the hepatorenal syndrome.

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