Acute Renal Failure in Critically Ill Patients

David H. Ellison, Margaret Johnson Bia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acute renal failure is an important cause of morbidity in critically ill patients. Acute renal failure results from pre renal and postrenal causes and, most importantly, acute tubular necrosis (ATN). Although it is known that renal toxins and renal ischemia are the most common causes of ATN in hospitalized patients, the exact pathogenesis of this entity is still not fully understood. Patients in the intensive care unit are at high risk for ATN because of hemodynamic instability, the administration of neph rotoxic antibiotics or chemotherapeutic agents, and ex posure to radiographic contrast agents. The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is also associated with an increased risk of renal failure development, either from complications of the disease itself or from its treatment. Many consequences of acute renal failure such as vol ume overload, acidosis, hyperkalemia, and serositis can be managed adequately with peritoneal dialysis, hemo dialysis, or a newer technique, continuous arteriove nous hemofiltration. Despite improvements in treat ment, however, the mortality of ATN remains high. In this review, we recommend measures to prevent ATN in certain clinical situations that commonly occur among critically ill patients. We also review therapeutic options for treating patients in whom acute renal failure devel ops and discuss newer developments that may begin to reduce the excessive morbidity associated with ATN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-24
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of intensive care medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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