Acute Tubular Necrosis


Acute tubular necrosis is damage to the tubule cells (tiny tube-shaped cells) in the kidney that results in acute kidney failure. This is a potentially serious condition that requires medical care.
Anatomy of the Kidney
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Acute tubular necrosis can be caused by:
  • Lack of oxygen to kidney tissues from problems such as blood clots, surgical complications, severe dehydration, or heavy bleeding
  • Exposure to toxic materials such as antibiotics, x-ray dyes, or anesthetics

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of acute tubular necrosis include:
  • Injury
  • Trauma
  • Surgery
  • Blood transfusion
  • Septic shock
  • Shock
  • Low blood pressure
  • Liver disease or damage
  • Certain medications, such as aminoglycosides, amphotericin B, cyclosporine, or tacrolimus
  • X-ray dye
  • Blood transfusion reaction
  • Exposure or build up of toxic chemicals, such as:
    • Crystals (uric acid, calcium phosphate)
    • Myoglobin
    • Hemoglobin


Acute tubular necrosis may cause:
  • Change in urine output
  • General swelling, fluid retention
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Dehydration

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