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Acute kidney failure (AKF)

Acute kidney failure (AKF) refers to a life threatening condition caused by sudden loss of kidney function. The kidneys function to clear the blood of metabolic toxins, maintain salt and water balance; they regulate blood pressure and red blood cell production. When the kidneys fail, these intricate mechanisms deteriorate causing illness characterized by vomiting, anorexia, lethargy, and sometimes seizures. Causes of AKF include: toxins (e.g.: raisins, antifreeze/ethylene glycol, lilies, snake venom), infections (e.g.: Leptospirosis, bacteria), drugs (anti-inflammatory medications), and obstructions from stones or tumors. Diagnosis of AKF is based on history and physical examination combined with blood and urine testing. Further laboratory tests such as radiographs and abdominal ultrasound may be used to identify the underlying cause of the failure. Treatment requires aggressive intravenous fluid therapy (to flush the toxins out of the body), blood pressure regulation, acid-base and electrolyte correction, and medications for nausea. The prognosis for patients with AKF depends on the underlying cause and response to therapy.