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Renal Injury

Renal Injury is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Kidneys are located in the retroperitoneal space and are surrounded by adipose tissue and loose areolar connective tissue.
  • Kidneys lie along the lower 2 thoracic vertebrae and 1st 4 lumbar vertebrae.
  • Left kidney is positioned slightly higher than the right.
  • Kidneys are not fixed:
    • Shift with the diaphragm and are supported by the renal arteries, veins, and adipose tissue to the renal (Gerota) fascia


  • Most common of all urologic injuries
  • Occurs in ∼8–10% of all abdominal trauma
  • Blunt renal trauma accounts for 80–85% of all renal injuries and is 5 times more common than penetrating injury:
    • Mechanisms include motor vehicle accidents, falls, domestic violence, and contact sports.
    • Pathophysiology includes rapid deceleration and displacement mechanisms.
    • ∼20% of cases are associated with intraperitoneal injury.
  • Mechanisms responsible for significant renal injury almost never affect the kidney alone:
    • Most often disrupt and injure other vital organs that can be responsible for patient mortality
  • Renal injuries are graded by type and severity of injury (Association for the Surgery of Trauma [AAST] criteria)
    • Grade I
      • Contusion: Microscopic or gross hematuria, urologic studies normal
      • Hematoma: Subcapsular, nonexpanding without parenchymal laceration
    • Grade II:
      • Hematoma: Nonexpanding, perirenal hematoma confined to retroperitoneum
      • Laceration: <1 cm parenchymal depth of renal cortex without urinary extravasation
    • Grade III
      • Laceration: >1 cm parenchymal depth of renal cortex without collecting system rupture or urinary extravasation
    • Grade IV:
      • Laceration: Parenchymal laceration extending through renal cortex, medulla, and collecting system
      • Vascular: Main renal artery or vein injury with contained hemorrhage
    • Grade V:
      • Laceration: Completely shattered kidney
      • Vascular: Avulsion of renal hilum, devascularizing the kidney

Pediatric Considerations
  • The kidney is the organ most commonly damaged by blunt abdominal trauma.
  • Contributing factors:
    • Relatively larger size of kidneys compared with adults
    • 10th and 11th ribs are not completely ossified until the 3rd decade of life.
  • Significant abdominal injury occurs in about 5% of nonaccidental trauma cases but is the 2nd most common cause of death after head injury.

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Renal Injury." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307558/all/Renal_Injury.
Renal Injury. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307558/all/Renal_Injury. Accessed April 25, 2019.
Renal Injury. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307558/all/Renal_Injury
Renal Injury [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 25]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307558/all/Renal_Injury.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Renal Injury ID - 307558 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307558/all/Renal_Injury PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -