Some people with perfectly healthy kidneys experience a kidney problem when they become critically ill or require surgery. Individuals who need treatment in the intensive care unit (ICU) can develop what is called “acute kidney injury.” Acute kidney injury (AKI) is generally defined as a sudden but ongoing decrease in kidney function. This can happen after surgery, where it remains a leading cause of complications, death, prolonged hospital stay, and increased hospital cost. It can also happen after use of certain strong medications or during some diagnostic tests.
The risk factors for developing AKI are older age, needing emergency surgery or high–risk surgery, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. Ask your doctor if you are at risk of AKI. If you are, ask what can be done to lower your risk.
Some people who have AKI are at risk of chronic kidney disease even after they recover from their life threatening illness.