Show Summary Details
Page of

Acute kidney injury 

Acute kidney injury
Acute kidney injury

Sofie A Gevaert

, Eric Hoste

, and John A Kellum


February 22, 2018: This chapter has been re-evaluated and remains up-to-date. No changes have been necessary.


Updates to tables and figures

Updates to references and minor updates to text

Updated on 27 July 2017. The previous version of this content can be found here.
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD MEDICINE ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Medicine Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 09 July 2020

Acute kidney injury is a serious condition, occurring in up to two-thirds of intensive care unit patients, and 8.8-55% of patients with acute cardiac conditions. Renal replacement therapy is used in about 5-10% of intensive care unit patients. The term cardiorenal syndrome refers to combined heart and kidney failure; three types of acute cardiorenal syndrome have been described: acute cardiorenal syndrome or cardiorenal syndrome type 1, acute renocardiac syndrome or cardiorenal syndrome type 3, and acute cardiorenal syndrome type 5 (cardiac and renal injury secondary to a third entity such as sepsis). Acute kidney injury replaced the previously used term ‘acute renal failure’ and comprises the entire spectrum of the disease, from small changes in function to the requirement of renal replacement therapy. Not only failure, but also minor and less severe decreases, in kidney function are of clinical significance both in the short and long-term. The most recent definition for acute kidney injury is proposed by the Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes clinical practice guidelines workgroup. This definition is a modification of the RIFLE and AKIN definitions and staging criteria, and it stages patients according to changes in the urine output and serum creatinine (see Tables 68.1 and 68.2). Acute kidney injury is a heterogeneous syndrome with different and multiple aetiologies, often with several insults occurring in the same individual. The underlying processes include nephrotoxicity, and neurohormonal, haemodynamic, autoimmune, and inflammatory abnormalities. The most frequent cause for acute kidney injury in intensive cardiac care patients are low cardiac output with an impaired kidney perfusion (cardiogenic shock) and/or a marked increase in venous pressure (acute decompensated heart failure). Predictors for acute kidney injury in these patients include: baseline renal dysfunction, diabetes, anaemia, and hypertension, as well as the administration of high doses of diuretics. In the intensive cardiac care unit, attention must be paid to the prevention of acute kidney injury: monitoring of high-risk patients, prompt resuscitation, maintenance of an adequate mean arterial pressure, cardiac output, and intravascular volume (avoidance of both fluid overload and hypovolaemia), as well as the avoidance or protection against nephrotoxic agents. The treatment of acute kidney injury focuses on the treatment of the underlying aetiology, supportive care, and avoiding further injury from nephrotoxic agents. More specific therapies have not yet demonstrated efficacy. Renal replacement therapy is indicated in life-threatening changes in fluid, electrolyte, and acid-base balance, but there are also arguments for more early initiation.

Access to the complete content on Oxford Medicine Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.