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Cortical Necrosis of the Kidneys


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Dec 2019| Content last modified Dec 2019
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Your kidneys are 2 bean-shaped organs that make urine, balance your body’s water and mineral levels, and filter waste out of your blood.

The Urinary Tract

The Urinary Tract

What is cortical necrosis of the kidneys?

The outer part of the kidney is called the cortex. Necrosis means death of tissue. Cortical necrosis of the kidneys is the death of tissue in the outer layer (cortex) of one or both of your kidneys.

Cortical necrosis is caused by a blockage of the blood vessels that bring blood to your kidneys.

  • Cortical necrosis happens when something interferes with blood flow to your kidneys

  • It's often caused by a severe health problem that causes a big drop in blood pressure

  • Cortical necrosis causes your kidneys to stop doing their job (kidney failure)

  • You urinate less, have dark urine, a fever, and pain in your lower back

  • Doctors treat the health problem causing cortical necrosis of the kidneys and may give you fluids and antibiotics

What causes cortical necrosis of the kidneys?

The causes depend on age.

In newborns, causes include:

In children, causes include:

In adults, causes include:

What are the symptoms of cortical necrosis of the kidneys?

You usually don't have any symptoms unless you get kidney failure. Symptoms of kidney failure include:

  • Feeling weak and tired

  • Feeling sick to your stomach

  • Being less hungry than usual

  • Itching

  • Feeling sleepy or confused

How can doctors tell if I have cortical necrosis of the kidneys?

Doctors suspect cortical necrosis if you have one of the disorders that can cause it and routine blood tests show your kidneys aren't working normally. To tell for sure, they may do:

  • Computed tomography angiography (CTA)—a type of CT scan that focuses on your major blood vessels

How do doctors treat cortical necrosis of the kidneys?

Doctors treat the problem that caused the cortical necrosis.

If you have kidney failure, you may need:

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