Send to

Choose Destination
BMC Nephrol. 2019 Mar 20;20(1):99. doi: 10.1186/s12882-019-1279-0.

Spectrum of acute kidney injury associated with cocaine use: report of three cases.

Author information

Nephrology Training Program, Department of Nephrology, Walter Cantídio University Hospital, Fortaleza, Brazil.
Medical Sciences Graduate Program, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil.
Medical Sciences Postgraduate Program, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Estadual University of Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil.
Pathology Department of Nephrology, Department of Pathology, Walter Cantídio University Hospital, Fortaleza, Brazil.
Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil.



The consequences of cocaine use are multisystemic, such as, for instance, renal failure, hepatotoxicity and pulmonary toxicity, with renal alterations being the focus of the present study. The use of substances that modify the base composition of cocaine (or adulterants) aiming to potentiate its effects also has an impact on these manifestations. The present study aims to report three cases with different diagnosis of acute kidney injury related to cocaine use.


Case 01 - A 30-year-old female patient, who regularly used cocaine, started to have lower-limb edema, which showed a progressive and ascending evolution, affecting the face a few days later, associated with an isolated febrile episode and oligoanuria. The presence of cytoplasmic antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (C-ANCA) was verified: reactive 1:80, with renal biopsy compatible with rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis (RPGN). Case 02 - A 34-year-old female patient, with difficult-to-control hypertension and a frequent user of cocaine, showed generalized sudden edema together with diffuse and progressive pruritus associated with oliguria, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Schistocyte screening was positive, with negative direct Coombs test, and negative serologies for hepatitis B, C and HIV, as well as negative anti-double-stranded DNA, Anti-SSA and Anti-SSB. The renal biopsy was compatible with thrombotic microangiopathy, associated with moderate interstitial fibrosis and acute tubular necrosis Case 03 - A 25-year-old male patient who had been a cocaine user for 5 years had a sudden onset of generalized disabling myalgia (especially in the lower limbs) associated with recent frontotemporal headache, palpitation, dizziness, and a non-measured febrile episode; the patient had used cocaine at the night before symptom onset. CPK was 1731 U/L.The final probable diagnosis was AKI secondary to cocaine-induced rhabdomyolysis.


In conclusion basically, 05 etiologies of acute kidney injury should always be remembered: rhabdomyolysis, thrombotic microangiopathy, vasculitis, acute interstitial nephritis and renal infarction. Emphasis should be given to rhabdomyolysis due to its higher prevalence. Considering the increasing rates of cocaine use, especially with the use of adulterating substances, these pathologies will likely be increasingly prevalent.


Acute kidney injury; Cocaine use; Cocaine-induced rhabdomyolysis; Rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis; Thrombotic microangiopathy

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center