FRIDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Many American soldiers who suffer burns and wounds during combat develop acute kidney injury, an abrupt or rapid decline in kidney function that is potentially deadly.
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That's the finding of a study that looked at acute kidney injury among 692 U.S. military casualties who were evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan to burn units.
Using two different classification systems, the researchers found that rates of acute kidney injury were 24 percent and 30 percent among the casualties.
Those with acute kidney injury were much more likely to die than those without it. Death rates among patients with moderate and severe forms of the condition were 21 percent to 33 percent and 63 percent to 65 percent, respectively. The death rate for patients who did not have acute kidney injury was 0.2 percent.
Among those with the condition, 58 percent were diagnosed when they were admitted to hospital, which suggests it may have been caused by combat-related factors. Complications from hospitalization were the likely cause of acute kidney injury among the 18 percent of patients who developed the condition after the first week in the burn unit. A combination of factors likely caused it in the remaining patients with the condition, the researchers said.
The study appears online Dec. 8 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
"Our research shows that if a wounded warrior develops kidney damage, he or she is at an increased risk of dying," Captain Ian Stewart, U.S. Air Force physician at the San Antonio Military Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, said in a journal news release.
"By preventing or modifying kidney injury, we may be able to improve survival in military personnel with burns and/or other traumatic injury," he added.
Further research is needed to determine whether intervening to reduce acute kidney injury will save lives, Stewart said.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, news release, Dec. 8, 2011