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Ann Thorac Surg. 2010 Apr;89(4):1098-104. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2009.12.018.

Impact of early renal recovery on survival after cardiac surgery-associated acute kidney injury.

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Division of Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology, Department of Anesthesiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.



Cardiac surgery-associated acute kidney injury (CSA-AKI) is a major postoperative complication. Although some early recovery is common, its effect on long-term outcomes is unclear. We tested the hypothesis that early renal recovery after CSA-AKI is independently associated with improved long-term survival.


Data were examined for 10,275 consecutive patients undergoing isolated coronary artery bypass grafting from 1996 to 2005. Patients with CSA-AKI were identified, defined as a peak postoperative creatinine level exceeding 50% above baseline. Renal recovery was characterized using postoperative creatinine values. The recovery variable with the strongest association with 1-year survival was selected and validated internally. The independent association of early renal recovery with long-term survival during a 10-year follow-up was assessed with Cox proportional hazards modeling.


CSA-AKI occurred in 1113 patients (10.8%). The renal recovery variable with the strongest association with 1-year survival was the percentage decrease in creatinine 24 hours after its peak value (PD24; C index, 0.72; p=0.002). Cox proportional hazards analysis showed a significant negative association between PD24 and long-term mortality (0.82 hazard ratio for each 10% change).


Early recovery of renal function is associated with improved long-term survival after CSA-AKI. This variable is clinically useful because it occurs immediately after the peak creatinine level and simultaneously helps define the severity of AKI and the magnitude of recovery. Given the high risk of death associated with postoperative AKI, early renal recovery seems to offer a distinct survival benefit and may represent an important therapeutic focus.

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