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The Effect of Burns on the Kidneys

One of the life threatening complications of severe burns is acute renal (kidney) failure (ARF). ARF is a sudden loss of the kidney’s ability to excrete waste, concentrate urine and conserve electrolytes.

According to a study done in Helsinki burn Center between 1988 and 2001, the mortality of ICU patients with ARF was 44.1% where as patients without ARF was only 6.9%. It is shown that the severity of the burn, the presence of smoke inhalational injury and the age of the patient are among the factors that play a role in the incidence of ARF. According to Holm and colleagues (Acute Renal Failure in Severely Burned Patients), if ARF occurs within the first 5 days after the burn injury it’s early ARF, decrease blood pressure due to inadequate fluid replacement and the presence of myoglobin (muscle protein) in urine due to the destruction of muscle tissue as a result of burn, are common causes. If ARF occurs after 5 days of injury, it is late ARF; sepsis (severe infection spreading through the blood stream) is the most common cause.

ARF is treated with dialysis. As burns associated with ARF will worsen the prognosis, early preventive measures taken to reduce this complication include proper fluid replacement, infection prevention, early wound debridement, and excision of dead tissue.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

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