Rhabdomyolysis

Definition

Rhabdomyolysis occurs when skeletal muscles are damaged and release myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is an iron-containing pigment that can cause severe damage to the kidneys.

Causes

Rhabdomyolysis results from any condition that causes significant muscle damage. These include:
  • Excessive muscle activity
  • Certain muscle diseases
  • Severe muscle injuries, such as a crush injury
  • Overuse of alcohol or illicit drugs
  • Uncontrolled seizure disorder
  • Hypothermia
  • Contact with an electrical current
  • Toxins, such as snake or spider venom
  • Extensive surgical procedures using large, muscle-dividing incisions—rare

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the risk of muscle damage include:
  • Extreme exertion, such as running a marathon
  • Heat stroke
  • Use of some prescription drugs
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Severe seizures or convulsions

Symptoms

The most common symptoms include:
  • Dark urine—brown or red in color
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle weakness
Other symptoms include:
  • Muscle swelling
  • Back pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
In severe cases, rhabdomyolysis may result in:
  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Multi-organ failure
  • Abnormal heartbeat, also known as arrhythmia
Anatomy of the Kidney
Glomerulonephritis
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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