Context: Although acute renal failure (ARF) is believed to be common in the setting of critical illness and is associated with a high risk of death, little is known about its epidemiology and outcome or how these vary in different regions of the world. Objectives: To determine the period prevalence of ARF in intensive care unit (ICU) patients in multiple countries; to characterize differences in etiology, illness severity, and clinical practice; and to determine the impact of these differences on patient outcomes. Design, Setting, and Patients: Prospective observational study of ICU patients who either were treated with renal replacement therapy (RRT) or fulfilled at least 1 of the predefined criteria for ARF from September 2000 to December 2001 at 54 hospitals in 23 countries. Main Outcome Measures: Occurrence of ARF, factors contributing to etiology, illness severity, treatment, need for renal support after hospital discharge, and hospital mortality. Results: Of 29 269 critically ill patients admitted during the study period, 1738 (5.7%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 5.5%-6.0%) had ARF during their ICU stay, including 1260 who were treated with RRT. The most common contributing factor to ARF was septic shock (47.5%; 95% CI, 45.2%-49.5%). Approximately 30% of patients had preadmission renal dysfunction. Overall hospital mortality was 60.3% (95% CI, 58.0%-62.6%). Dialysis dependence at hospital discharge was 13.8% (95% CI, 11.2%-16.3%) for survivors. Independent risk factors for hospital mortality included use of vasopressors (odds ratio [OR], 1.95; 95% CI, 1.50-2.55; P<.001), mechanical ventilation (OR, 2.11; 95% CI, 1.58-2.82; P<.001), septic shock (OR, 1.36; 95% CI, 1.03-1.79; P=.03), cardiogenic shock (OR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.05-1.90; P=.02), and hepatorenal syndrome (OR, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.07-3.28; P=.03). Conclusion: In this multinational study, the period prevalence of ARF requiring RRT in the ICU was between 5% and 6% and was associated with a high hospital mortality rate.
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