is Acute Tubular Necrosis?
Inside your kidneys are small tube-shaped structures that remove
salt, excess fluids, and waste products from the blood. When these tubules are
damaged or destroyed, you develop acute tubular necrosis (ATN). The damage may
result in acute kidney failure.
Are the Symptoms of Acute Tubular Necrosis?
The symptoms of ATN may vary depending on its severity. You may:
- have problems waking up
- feel drowsy even during the day
- feel lethargic or physically drained
- be excessively thirsty or experience dehydration
- urinate very little or not at all
- retain fluid or experience swelling in your body
- have episodes of confusion
- experience nausea or have the need to vomit
Causes Acute Tubular Necrosis?
The most common cause of ATN is a lack of oxygen reaching the
cells of the kidney. When blood cannot reach the tissues and cells of the
kidneys due to a blockage or restriction, the kidneys can be damaged or
destroyed. A heart attack, stroke, and long-standing
diabetes can result in reduced blood flow to the kidneys causing cell death and
Harmful substances in the blood can also damage tubules. Toxins
may change the way cells in the tubules function.
Certain chemicals and medications (such as antibiotics),
anesthetics, and radiology dyes may cause ATN if your body reacts negatively to
Is at Risk for Acute Tubular Necrosis?
A number of factors may place you at risk for ATN. The risk
factors depend on your overall health and any other medical issues such as:
- Recent injury to your body, especially the
kidneys. The trauma may cause blood clots or another blockage to occur in the
blood vessels servicing your kidneys.
- A bad reaction to a blood transfusion. Your body
may reject or destroy the blood cells in transfused blood. This may lead to
problems if your body cannot get sufficient blood supply to the kidneys.
- Septic shock. This can cause a drastic drop in
your body’s blood pressure and slow blood circulation to the kidneys. This is
very dangerous if you already have low blood pressure problems.
- A major surgical procedure. This can cause
complications with your blood supply or circulation.
Acute Tubular Necrosis?
If your doctor suspects acute tubular necrosis, they may order
specific diagnostic tests. These testing procedures include:
- urinalysis to look for abnormal cells in your
urine, the color of the urine, and signs of infection from bacteria and other
- blood urea nitrogen (BUN) to check for
conditions such as kidney failure and disease
- biopsy to examine the kidney tissue
- blood tests to measure sodium and creatinine
- CT scans to take pictures of the inside of your
Acute Tubular Necrosis
Your doctor may prescribe medication to decrease the fluid and
waste buildup in your kidneys. You may also be told to restrict your diet to
reduce the amount of sodium and potassium in your body. You may also need to
regulate the amount of water you drink to avoid excessive fluid retention. Too
much fluid can lead to abnormal swelling (edema) in your arms, legs, and feet. You
may temporarily need dialysis to help your kidneys filter out excess fluids and
Is the Long Term Outlook for Acute Kidney Tubular Necrosis?
Your recovery time and long-term outlook will depend on many
factors. Acute kidney failure can sometimes be reversible in people who are in
otherwise good health.
The outlook is very good for people who don’t have any underlying
health conditions, and who were able to start treatment in the early stages of
If your ATN was caused by another condition, your recovery depends
on your overall health.
Acute Tubular Necrosis
To avoid ATN, treat conditions that decrease oxygen and blood
flow to the kidneys. Control existing conditions such as diabetes, heart
disorders, and liver disease. Drink plenty of water after using any contrast
dyes. Ask your doctor to monitor your blood if you take medications that may be
toxic to the kidneys.