Merck Manual

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Major Causes of Acute Kidney Injury

Major Causes of Acute Kidney Injury


Underlying Problem

Insufficient blood supply to the kidneys

Blood loss

Loss of large amounts of sodium and fluid

Physical injury that blocks blood vessels

Inadequate pumping of the heart (heart failure)

Medications that decrease blood flow to the kidneys

Injury to the kidneys

Blood supply to the kidneys decreased long enough to damage the kidneys

Toxic substances (for example, medications, iodinated contrast agents used in imaging tests, and poisons)

Allergic reactions (for example, to certain antibiotics)

Disorders affecting the filtering units (nephrons) of the kidneys (for example, acute glomerulonephritis Glomerulonephritis Glomerulonephritis is a disorder of glomeruli (clusters of microscopic blood vessels in the kidneys with small pores through which blood is filtered). It is characterized by body tissue swelling... read more , tubulointerstitial nephritis Tubulointerstitial Nephritis Tubulointerstitial nephritis is inflammation that affects the tubules of the kidneys and the tissues that surround them (interstitial tissue). This disorder may be caused by diseases, medications... read more , tumors damaging the kidneys, or injury to blood vessels as occurs with hemolytic-uremic syndrome Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome (HUS) Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) is a serious disorder that usually occurs in children and involves the formation of small blood clots throughout the body that block the flow of blood to vital... read more , systemic lupus erythematosus [lupus] Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory connective tissue disorder that can involve joints, kidneys, skin, mucous membranes, and blood vessel walls. Problems in the... read more Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) , atheroembolic kidney disease Atheroembolic Kidney Disease In atheroembolic kidney disease, numerous small pieces of fatty material (atheroemboli) travel from arteries above the kidneys to clog the smallest branches of the renal arteries, causing the... read more , Goodpasture syndrome Goodpasture Syndrome Goodpasture syndrome is an uncommon autoimmune disorder in which bleeding into the lungs and progressive kidney failure occur. People usually have difficulty breathing and may cough up blood... read more , granulomatosis with polyangiitis Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis Granulomatosis with polyangiitis often begins with inflammation of small- and medium-sized blood vessels and tissues in the nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, or kidneys. The cause is unknown. The... read more Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis , or microscopic polyangiitis Microscopic Polyangiitis Microscopic polyangiitis is inflammation of mainly small blood vessels throughout the body. Symptoms vary depending on which organs are affected. People have a fever, lose weight, and have achy... read more )

Obstructed urine flow

Tumor pressing on the urinary tract

Obstruction within the kidneys (for example, by crystals or stones such as oxalate or uric acid)