The nutritional management of acute renal failure

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SummaryAcute renal failure (ARF) is a syndrome in which the kidneys are unable to excrete the products of metabolism. The failure of renal function is rapid in its onset but potentially reversible. It occurs rapidly, within 8 weeks of renal injury resulting in a rapid increase in serum urea and creatinine concentrations in patients with previously normal renal function.It is a condition traditionally associated with a high mortality rate, often due to the complications of sepsis, delayed wound healing and disrupted haemocoagulation. Survivability has been demonstrated to be improved by early appropriate nutritional support (Bartlett et al., 1986) reference 3 although in practice this is often difficult to achieve as nutritional support is complex. In the past high morbidity and mortality rates were related to infections and inadequate nutritional intake. This resulted from unnecessary protein restrictions in an attempt to control uraemic symptoms (Thomas, 1988) reference 18.To a large extent survivability of ARF has still not been greatly improved even with modern antibiotics and the careful dietary assessment of ARF patients. This reflects the complexity of managing patients with this condition. However, appropriate dietary management of ARF patients is essential to improve their long-term prognosis. Although the precise form this takes remains a contentious issue amongst clinicians.

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