What is acute tubular necrosis?

Acute tubular necrosis is a condition that damages part of a person’s kidneys. This can occur as a result of a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the kidneys. The condition can lead to acute kidney failure. There are tube-shaped structures in the kidneys called tubules. They filter out waste products and fluid. These structures are damaged in acute tubular necrosis. When this happens, acute kidney failure may occur. In acute kidney failure, electrolytes and fluids increase in the body, possibly past safe levels.

What causes acute tubular necrosis?

A number of problems can lead to acute tubular necrosis. However, the most frequent causes are conditions that reduce oxygen to the kidneys. These include diabetes, a stroke, or a heart attack. Chemicals can also damage the tubules. These include X-ray contrast dye, anesthesia drugs, antibiotics, and other toxic chemicals.

What are the risk factors for developing acute tubular necrosis?

Several risk factors can lead to acute tubular necrosis. These include situations where blood flow is cut off or reduced (as with blood clots, for example), extended periods of low blood pressure, or shock. Conditions in which there is blood loss such as surgery and trauma can also lead to acute tubular necrosis. Muscle damage and liver disease also are risk factors.

What are the symptoms of acute tubular necrosis?

There are several symptoms that a patient might experience. These include:

  • Dehydration or excessive thirst
  • A small amount of urine output
  • Swelling and fluid retention
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Trouble waking up/drowsiness
  • Feeling sluggish
  • Confusion

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