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New Method Quickly Spots Kidney Damage After Surgery

Patients who underwent heart-lung bypass showed high levels of specific protein in study

FRIDAY, March 15, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- A potential early indicator of acute kidney injury has been identified by researchers.

Acute kidney injury is a common and serious complication of hospitalization. It affects about 6 percent of all hospitalized patients and 30 percent to 40 percent of adults and children who undergo cardiopulmonary (heart-lung) bypass surgery, according to the researchers from the Medical College of Georgia.

They also noted that 10 percent to 15 percent of acute kidney injuries lead to chronic kidney disease or failure that may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.

In animal and human studies, the researchers found that a significant amount of the protein semaphorin 3A is detectable in the urine within a few hours after acute kidney injury.

The protein is not usually measurable in urine, but it was rapidly detected in a group of 60 children after they had heart-lung bypass surgery. High protein levels were about 90 percent accurate at identifying the 26 children with acute kidney injury.

In these children, levels of the protein in the urine were high within two hours after surgery, peaked at six hours, and returned to normal after 12 hours, according to the findings published recently in the journal PLoS One.

"Semaphorin 3A appears to be a sensitive biomarker that we believe will give physicians an early and accurate heads up that their patient's kidneys have been injured so that damage can be minimized and potentially reversed with rapid intervention," study corresponding author Dr. Ganesan Ramesh, a kidney pathologist, said in a college news release.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about the kidneys and kidney problems (http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/Mar2013/Feature1 ).

SOURCE: Medical College of Georgia, news release, March 12, 2013