Acute Tubular Necrosis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Acute tubular necrosis is a serious disease that affects the kidneys.  Both men and women can get sick of this. However, there are some factors that might increase the risk of developing it.  Here is essential information about this condition, its signs and symptoms, possible treatment and management, as well as charting the proper way

acute tubular necrosis

Acute tubular necrosis is a serious disease that affects the kidneys.  Both men and women can get sick of this. However, there are some factors that might increase the risk of developing it.  Here is essential information about this condition, its signs and symptoms, possible treatment and management, as well as charting the proper way of moving forward.

Acute Tubular Necrosis

The first step towards combating this condition is understanding what it is.  Acute tubular necrosis, as said earlier, affects the kidneys. This is the result when the tubes in charge of cleansing your blood of waste products such as excess fluid and salt (tubule cells) are damaged.  If not attended to immediately, this can ultimately lead to kidney failure. However, if early detection and proper medical intervention are accessible, you can get the upper hand and heal from it completely.


There are many possible reasons why a person develops Acute tubular necrosis.  Here are some of those probable causes:

  • Destruction of tubule cells due to an accident that caused the damage
  • Ischemia (insufficient oxygen and blood flow to the tissues in the kidney) caused by a heart attack, diabetes, or stroke
  • Poison or chemical substances (including x-ray contrast dye, anesthesia, toxic medication, and antibiotics) that destroy tubule cells and kidney tissue


As also mentioned earlier, there can be certain mitigating factors that can significantly increase the risk of developing this illness. They include the following:

  • Muscular damage or trauma which in turn can destroy the tubule cells
  • Septic shock, caused by a potent infection that causes a massive drop in blood pressure
  • Major surgery
  • Adverse reaction to blood transfusion
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure) that lasts for half an hour or longer
  • Diabetes-induced liver or kidney disease

If any of these conditions apply to you, your doctor will automatically prescribe strict monitoring of the status of your conditions.  Early detection matters if fast and complete recovery is the goal.

Signs and Symptoms

What could be the signs and symptoms of acute tubular necrosis?  Here are the most common:

  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Persistent drowsiness
  • Excessive thirst
  • Small volume of urine output
  • Headache and Dizziness
  • Vomiting

Tests used for Diagnosis

The only way to find out whether you acute tubular necrosis or not is to submit to a battery of tests.  These tests will cover many areas including electrolyte levels, creatinine, blood urea nitrogen, and potassium.  A qualified nephrologist will be able to interpret the results, give you an accurate picture of your current condition, and identify the right steps moving forward.  Specific tests that might be required are:

  • Urinalysis: This is to check the contents of the urine particularly checking for the presence of waste products.
  • Biopsy: This checks whether this is damage in the tubule cells.
  • CT Scan: This will give a clear picture of the status of the patient’s kidneys.
  • Blood tests: This will show creatinine and blood urea nitrogen levels.
  • Urine tests: These go hand-in-hand with urinalysis.  It will check for blood, electrolyte levels, and potassium content.

Management and Treatment

Acute tubular necrosis is not a death sentence.  With early detection and appropriate intervention, this condition can be completely reversed.  Here are some ways that this disease is treated and managed:

  • Dietary restrictions (less sodium in the food, less fluid intake to reduce water retention, drastically reduce potassium intake)
  • Strict monitoring of potassium, fluid, and sodium intake
  • Medication particularly diuretics which can increase the volume of urine
  • Medication to regulate potassium build-up in the body
  • Dialysis  for more serious cases

Early detection is the key here.  Once you know you are at risk and you are showing possible symptoms of acute tubular necrosis, see a nephrologist right away.  Immediate action will definitely reduce the risk of further complications caused by this condition.


The old adage, “Prevention is better than cure,” definitely applies in this situation.  This is because acute tubular necrosis can be prevented or, at the very least, reduce the risk of having it.  Here are some ways to effectively prevent this condition:

  • Have enough oxygen and blood flow going.  You can do this through exercise, deep breathing, observing appropriate dietary considerations, and spending time outdoors.
  • Drink loads of water before and after you submit yourself for an x-ray.
  • Be careful with blood transfusion.  Make sure your blood samples have been cross-matched to reduce the risk of any adverse reaction when blood is transfused.
  • Look into managing your symptoms. If you are prone or already have any problems with high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, liver disease, and diabetes, you might want to look at managing your symptoms because these can eventually lead to acute tubular necrosis.
  • Do not self-medicate and worse, get an over-the-counter drug for your condition. This might just exacerbate the situation. Do it the right way: gather evidence; see the doctor; submit to tests; gain access to both accurate diagnosis and proper medical intervention.
  • You can include detox drinks in your health regimen. Detox drinks are known to help flush out toxins from the body.  Plus, they are abundant with vitamins, minerals, and antibodies.  By hydrating with detox drinks, you get enough oxygen going throughout the body while getting rid of disease-causing toxins while you are at it.
  • Look at what you are eating. You might want to limit sodium and potassium-rich food.  You can meet your doctor or a nutritionist about this. Coming up with a correct dietary plan can definitely reduce the risk of many conditions including acute tubular necrosis.

The Takeaway

Acute tubular necrosis will not spell doom if detected early and responded to accurately and immediately.  Do not ignore the signs. If you notice them, see your doctor as soon as possible so you can have a proper and immediate diagnosis and medical intervention.  However, there are ways to stop this disease at its tracks even before it happens. By doing some of the suggested statements above, you can surely reduce the risk of having acute tubular necrosis in your lifetime.

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