Prognosis and Serum Creatinine Levels In Acute Renal Failure at the Time of Nephrology Consultation: An Observational Cohort Study

Jose Ramon Perez-Valdivieso; Maira Bes-Rastrollo; Pablo Monedero; Jokin de Irala; Francisco Javier Lavilla


BMC Nephrology 

In This Article

Abstract and Background

Background: The aim of this study is to evaluate the association between acute serum creatinine changes in acute renal failure (ARF), before specialized treatment begins, and in-hospital mortality, recovery of renal function, and overall mortality at 6 months, on an equal degree of ARF severity, using the RIFLE criteria, and comorbid illnesses.
Methods: Prospective cohort study of 1008 consecutive patients who had been diagnosed as having ARF, and had been admitted in an university-affiliated hospital over 10 years. Demographic, clinical information and outcomes were measured. After that, 646 patients who had presented enough increment in serum creatinine to qualify for the RIFLE criteria were included for subsequent analysis. The population was divided into two groups using the median serum creatinine change (101%) as the cut-off value. Multivariate non-conditional logistic and linear regression models were used.
Results: A ≥ 101% increment of creatinine respect to its baseline before nephrology consultation was associated with significant increase of in-hospital mortality (35.6% vs. 22.6%, p < 0.001), with an adjusted odds ratio of 1.81 (95% CI: 1.08–3.03). Patients who required continuous renal replacement therapy in the ≥ 101% increment group presented a higher increase of in-hospital mortality (62.7% vs 46.4%, p = 0.048), with an adjusted odds ratio of 2.66 (95% CI: 1.00–7.21). Patients in the ≥ 101% increment group had a higher mean serum creatinine level with respect to their baseline level (114.72% vs. 37.96%) at hospital discharge. This was an adjusted 48.92% (95% CI: 13.05–84.79) more serum creatinine than in the < 101% increment group.
Conclusion: In this cohort, patients who had presented an increment in serum level of creatinine of ≥ 101% with respect to basal values, at the time of nephrology consultation, had increased mortality rates and were discharged from hospital with a more deteriorated renal function than those with similar Liano scoring and the same RIFLE classes, but with a < 101% increment. This finding may provide more information about the factors involved in the prognosis of ARF. Furthermore, the calculation of relative serum creatinine increase could be used as a practical tool to identify those patients at risk, and that would benefit from an intensive therapy.

Acute renal failure (ARF) is a life threatening illness with a high mortality despite advances in supportive care.[1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14] Although there is a strong and direct relation between multiorgan failure and in-hospital mortality, severity of illness does not explain the variation in outcomes among patients with acute renal failure.[5,9,10] There is an increased cost in terms of patient prognosis, financial and clinical management. In a study, 30% of patients did not recover completely their renal function [15] and, in other studies, progression to chronic renal failure in many patients is suggested.[9,16] In regard to these concerns, prompt recognition and early consultation with a nephrologist have been postulated to improve the outcome of patients with acute renal failure.[7,11,12,17] Nevertheless, the published evidence is scarce.

The absence of a consensus definition of ARF has made research about ARF difficult.[6,18,19] Recently, the Acute Dialysis Quality Initiative (ADQI) published a uniformed definition called the RIFLE (Risk, Injury, Failure, Loss, End Stage) criteria.[20] The RIFLE criteria has been adopted by the Acute Kidney Injury Network (AKIN).[6]

Diagnosis of ARF based upon changes in serum creatinine may be delayed due to the fact that, in the non-steady-state conditions of ARF, as GFR falls creatinine secretion is increased.[11] Large changes in GFR are initially manifested as small quantitative changes in serum creatinine in the first 24–48 hours after renal injury.[11] After these one or two days, the degree of serum creatinine changes will reflect the change in GFR. Finally, the serum creatinine is stabilized, and that takes about 7 days.[11,20] Therefore, it is almost impossible to exactly determine the onset of the ARF; and also calculating the exact time lapsed until the nephrology consultation. However, measuring serum creatinine level is a practical approach for discovering short-term alteration in renal function, despite its limitations, because it is readily used in clinical practice and it is specific for renal function.[20,21] In patients with stable renal function, those levels are constant, with a daily variability of 8%,[22,23] so increasing levels might suggest the first stage of ARF.

We conducted this study to identify and quantify a correlation between acute serum creatinine changes in ARF, measuring them at the time of nephrology consultation, and mortality and recovery of renal function. We hypothesized that, at the same levels of severity of renal and comorbid illnesses, the higher the acute serum creatinine reached with respect to its baseline, before the nephrologist first began to treat the patient, the worse the outcome will be.


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