Acute Kidney Injury

Acute kidney injury or acute renal failure means a disease wherein damage to the kidneys has occurred within a few hours to days.

Normal kidneys get rid of waste products and extra fluid that are generated as a result of metabolism and intake. When kidneys are damaged, waste products and fluids get accumulated. Depending on the severity of illness, this can indirectly lead to problems with the function of other organs like brain, lungs and heart.

Acute Kidney Injury

– Decrease in amount of urine
– Swelling around face, and/or legs
– Breathlessness
– Confusion
– Nausea, vomiting
– Drowsiness or even coma in severe cases

In other milder cases, AKI may have no symptom whatsoever and may be detected when the tests are done for some other reason.

Acute Kidney Injury

What can be the causes of AKI ?

The causes of AKI can be broadly categorized into three;

Due to decreased blood flow to the kidneys
– Severe bleeding
– Dehydration due to loose motions, vomiting, etc
– Heart diseases
– Sometimes after major surgery
– Burn injury

Due to direct damage to the kidneys
This can occur due to
– certain medicines like painkillers, some types of antibiotics
– Severe infections anywhere
– Certain cancers- like myeloma, etc
– Autoimmune conditions- SLE, vasculitis, etc
– Glomerulonephritis

Due to obstruction in kidneys/elsewhere in the urinary tract
– stones in the urinary tract
– Prostate enlargement
– Cancers of kidney/bladder/cervix/prostate etc
– Nervous system problems causing interference with urine flow

How is AKI diagnosed ?

AKI is often apparent with clinical examination supported simple blood and urine tests. An Ultrasound (and in some cases CT scan) is usually needed to evaluate the cause.
In some specific situations, a kidney biopsy may be needed to ascertain the cause of kidney damage.

What is the treatment if AKI ?

Treatment is basically decided by what actually damaged the kidney in the first place.

In severe cases, dialysis may be required to filter out toxins and fluids from the body till the time kidney recovers.