Acute Tubular Necrosis

What is acute tubular necrosis?

Your kidney contains a network of long narrow tubes that help the body in maintaining the right proportion of salt, fluids, and other useful substances. These structures also remove substances in the blood that are harmful to the body through the urine. When these networks of tubes are damaged for whatever reason, acute tubular necrosis, abbreviated as ATN, will be the outcome. It is a kind of acute kidney injury that can bring about acute kidney failure.

Symptoms of acute tubular necrosis

The symptoms of acute tubular necrosis are defined by the severity of the condition. Common symptoms include:

  • a feeling of drowsiness during the day
  • feeling of lethargy, that is, feeling physically drained
  • a feeling of excessive thirstiness due to dehydration
  • urine quantity will be very poor or absent altogether
  • retention of body fluid which will result in swelling of the body
  • Experiencing episodes of confusion
  • Feelings of nausea or vomiting.

Acute Tubular Necrosis

Photo Credit: Pathology Education Instructional Resource

Causes of acute tubular necrosis

Oxygen in the body keeps all the cells and tissues in the body functioning at optimal capacity. When it is not insufficient, body cells and tissues will start to die. Your kidneys are not an exemption.

Common reasons for poor oxygen supply to your body cells, tissues, and, organs include low blood pressure, antibiotics, anesthetics, toxins, and radiology dyes.

These factors can alter the structures and functions of your body cells.

Who is at risk?

Your likelihood of developing an acute kidney tubular necrosis is hinged basically on your general health status. The following conditions can trigger it.

Injury to the kidneys

Kidney injuries can result in trauma to the blood vessels. When the blood vessels are traumatized, blood will become clotted in the vessels. When this happens, the blood supply to other parts of the kidney beyond the point of the blood clot will be disrupted.  Hence, their death is inevitable.

Blood transfusion reactions

It is possible for your body to reject an organ or tissue that has been implanted into it. These implanted organs are usually from another person and your body is not familiar with them. When your body sees such organs as strangers, your body will attack them and in the process destroy your blood cells. This can further lead to acute tubular necrosis.

Septic shock

It is a condition characterized by a drastic fall in your blood pressure. It also comes with a slow circulation of blood in your kidneys. It becomes very serious if you already have hypotension.

Major surgery can predispose you to have serious complications with your blood supply.

Diagnosis for acute tubular necrosis

There are specific diagnostic tests that can help your doctor to diagnose the condition.

Urinalysis

It will be employed to assess your urine color as well as find out the presence of abnormal cells, bacterial, and other infections.

Blood urea nitrogen and creatinine urine tests

These two substances increase in their concentration in the advent of kidney insufficiency.

Biopsy

It is used to examine the tissues of your kidneys.

Your sodium and creatinine levels can also be assayed for, from your blood sample.

CT scans

The doctor uses a CT scan to view your kidneys so he can find out what the exact problem is and where it is located.

Treatment for acute tubular necrosis

To treat acute kidney necrosis, your doctor will administer medications that can decrease waste and fluid accumulation in your kidneys.

Your current diet may also be affected. You might have to reduce the consumption of foods that are very heavy in potassium and sodium.

Your water consumption might also be altered. This will be to control the amount of it that you drink as it can help check against fluid retention in your legs, arms, and feet.

There are times that this method might not be effective in controlling excess fluid buildup in your body. This is where dialysis comes in. It is the use of an artificial machine to assist your kidneys in filtering out too many wastes and fluids in your body.

Outlook

If your overall health status is good and you begin early treatment, your acute kidney necrosis can be pretty reversed.

But when there is another condition associated with it, your recovery time might be prolonged.

Preventing acute tubular necrosis

To prevent your chances of developing acute tubular necrosis, ensure to always and promptly attend to conditions that reduce your blood and oxygen flows to the kidney. All existing medical conditions such as heart failure, diabetes, and liver deficiencies should be put under control.

You know water, right? Drink plenty of it! Anytime you use any contrast dyes. You can ask your doctor to do a follow up on your blood if you are taking medications that have the potency for kidney toxicity.