The term ‘functional renal failure’ has been used to describe the renal failure developing in advanced cirrhosis in which tubular function and structure remain intact. It may develop spontaneously, in which case prognosis is poor, but may be secondary to gastro-intestinal haemorrhage or excessive use of diuretics, in which case correction of the precipitating factor leads to improvement in renal function. It is suggested that the renal failure is due to a reduction in effective circulating plasma volume.
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