COVID kidney injury twice as common as diagnosed, study finds

A University of Queensland-led study has found millions of COVID-19 patients may have undiagnosed acute kidney injury (AKI).

AKI is a condition where the kidneys suddenly fail to filter waste from the blood, which can lead to serious illness or even death.

Existing data indicates approximately 20 per cent of patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 develop AKI, rising to roughly 40 per cent for those in intensive care.

But UQ PhD candidate and kidney specialist Dr Marina Wainstein said the true numbers could be double those figures.

“Doctors look at the amount of urine a patient passes and the level of a compound called creatinine in the blood, which rises when the kidneys aren’t working well,” she said.

“However, if that creatinine rise occurs before a patient presents to hospital, we can miss the AKI diagnosis and fail to manage the patient appropriately in those early, critical days of hospitalisation.”

Dr Wainstein said when researchers also measured the fall in creatinine levels, which often follows the initial rise, the rate of AKI diagnosis in COVID-19 patients doubled.

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