Diagnosis of cardiac surgery-associated acute kidney injury from functional to damage biomarkers

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Purpose of review

Acute kidney injury (AKI) occurs in up to 30% after cardiac surgery and is associated with adverse outcome. Currently, cardiac surgery-associated acute kidney injury (CSA-AKI) is diagnosed by Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes criteria based on creatinine and urine output. To detect and treat AKI earlier, various biomarkers have been evaluated. This review addresses the current position of the two damage biomarkers neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) and [TIMP-2] [IGFBP7] in clinical practice.

Recent findings

We present an updated review on the use of blood and urinary NGAL in CSA-AKI. NGAL is a good predictor, and performs better in children than adults. There is a large variation in predictive ability, possibly caused by diversity of AKI definitions used, different time of measurement of NGAL, and lack of specificity of NGAL assays.

Recent findings

Similarly, there are conflicting data on the predictive ability of urinary [TIMP-2] [IGFBP7] for CSA-AKI.

Recent findings

Recently, both for NGAL and for urinary [TIMP-2] [IGFBP7], a set of actions, based on pretest assessment of risk for CSA-AKI and biomarker test results, was developed. These scores should be evaluated in prospective trials.


NGAL and urinary [TIMP-2] [IGFBP7], in combination with pretest assessment, are promising tools for early detection and treatment in CSA-AKI.

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