Acute Kidney Injury

Also known as: AKI, acute renal failure, ARF.

What is acute kidney injury?

When the kidneys are suddenly (hours to a few days) damaged (it can vary in severity and have a variety of causes) and cannot perform their normal function of removing extra fluid, salts, waste and toxins from the blood, (plus other functions like controlling blood pressure, hormone production) the condition is known as acute kidney injury.

What causes acute kidney injury?

Causes can be divided into those that arise from:

  1. Not sufficient blood flow/amount of oxygen going to the kidneys like from dehydration from gastroenteritis, blood loss, other causes of decreased fluid intake or loss, or from a number of reasons for there being less oxygen in the blood going to the kidneys (for example from trauma, surgery, poor lung/heart function) or from diseases that damage blood vessels going to the kidneys (like hemolytic uremic syndrome- HUS)
  2. Damage to the kidneys themselves, like from glomerulonephritis or Lupus, from administration of drugs toxic to the kidneys, which might include some antibiotics or drugs for pain/to lower the child’s temperature (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories), blood transfusions, other toxic chemicals or vapors.
  3. Obstruction or blockage to the flow of urine (like from a kidney stone) that prevents urine from leaving the body.
  4. Other causes.

What are the symptoms of acute kidney injury?

Symptoms depend on the underlying cause, come on suddenly and common ones include:

  • high blood pressure
  • fever
  • swelling of the leg or swelling around the eyes (edema)
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • poor/lack or high urine output
  • pale skin
  • confusion

What are acute kidney injury care options?

Acute kidney injury is a serious illness that requires hospitalization and/or being in a Pediatric Critical Care Unit. Supportive care may involve fluid management, diet modification, medications, acute kidney dialysis or continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT).


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: May 01, 2020 03:57 PM

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