Rhabdomyolysis occurs when skeletal muscles are damaged and release myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is an iron-containing pigment that can cause severe damage to the kidneys.
Rhabdomyolysis results from any condition that causes significant muscle damage. These include:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Factors that may increase the risk of muscle damage include:
- Extreme exertion, such as running a marathon
- Heat stroke
The most common symptoms include:
- Dark colored (brown or red) urine
- Muscle pain
- Muscle weakness
Other symptoms include:
- Muscle swelling
- Back pain
In severe cases, rhabdomyolysis may result in:
- Kidney damage or failure due to blocked arterial blood flow
- Multi-organ failure
- Abnormal heartbeat ( arrhythmia
Kidney Blood Flow and Function
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Tests may include:
- Urine tests
- Blood tests
- Muscle testing ( electromyography
Treatment may include:
Giving large amounts of fluid is the main treatment. Fluids are usually given directly into a vein by an IV. Hydration helps to quickly flush myoglobin out of the kidneys, in order to restore their function.
Medication may include:
- Diuretics—to help flush out the kidneys
- Bicarbonate—to minimize myoglobin's toxic effects
Dialysis is a procedure that uses an artificial kidney machine to filter blood. The clean blood is then returned to your body.
National Institute of Health, US National Library of Medicine
National Kidney Foundation
The Kidney Foundation of Canada: British Columbia Branch
National Institute of Health website. Available at: http://www.nih.gov/ .
Pathogenesis and Management of Rhabdomyolysis. Hahnemann University School of Medicine; 1998.
US National Library of Medicine website. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov .
Last reviewed November 2008 by
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