Acute renal failure


Acute kidney injury (AKI), previously called acute renal failure (ARF), is a sudden decrease in kidney function that develops within 7 days, as shown by an increase in serum creatinine or a decrease in urine output, or both.

Causes of AKI are classified as either prerenal (due to decreased blood flow to the kidney), intrinsic renal (due to damage to the kidney itself), or postrenal (due to blockage of urine flow). Prerenal causes of AKI include sepsis, dehydration, excessive blood loss, cardiogenic shock, heart failure, cirrhosis, and certain medications like ACE inhibitors or NSAIDs. Intrinsic renal causes of AKI include glomerulonephritis, lupus nephritis, acute tubular necrosis, certain antibiotics, chemotherapeutic agents, and contrast dye used for imaging. Postrenal causes of AKI include kidney stones, bladder cancer, neurogenic bladder, enlargement of the prostate, narrowing of the urethra, and certain medications like anticholinergics.

The diagnosis of AKI is made based on a person's signs and symptoms, along with lab tests for serum creatinine and measurement of urine output. Other tests include urine microscopy and urine electrolytes. Renal ultrasound can be obtained when a postrenal cause is suspected. A kidney biopsy may be obtained when intrinsic renal AKI is suspected and the cause is unclear.

AKI is seen in 10-15% of people admitted to the hospital and in more than 50% of people admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). AKI may lead to a number of complications, including metabolic acidosis, high potassium levels, uremia, changes in body fluid balance, and effects on other organ systems, including death. People who have experienced AKI are at increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease in the future. Management includes treatment of the underlying cause and supportive care, such as renal replacement therapy.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
Problem Type:
G: Very specific problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST