Acute kidney injury: epidemiology and diagnostic criteria

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Purpose of review

To review recent advances in the definitions and diagnostic criteria for acute renal failure and acute kidney injury. To explore how these changes impact the epidemiology and clinical implications for patients in the intensive care unit.

Recent findings

Recently published consensus criteria for the definition of acute renal failure/acute kidney injury have led to significant changes in how we think about this disorder. Studies from around the world, both in and out of the intensive care unit, have shown a dramatic incidence of acute kidney injury and high associated mortality. This review considers these new findings and their historical context, and attempts to shed new light on this old problem.


Small changes in kidney function in hospitalized patients are important and impact on outcome. RIFLE criteria provide a uniform definition of acute kidney injury and are increasingly used in literature.

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