Nuno Guimarães Rosa, Gil Silva, Alves Teixeira, Fernando Rodrigues, José Augusto Araújo


Rhabdomyolysis is a common entity that often has a multifactorial etiology. It usually affects healthy individuals, following trauma, excessive physical activity, convulsive crisis, alcohol and other drugs consumption or infections. Accumulation of intracellular calcium, activation of proteases and lipases, production of free radicals and the infiltration by inflammatory cells, are some of the mechanisms responsible for muscular necrosis. Myoglobinuric acute renal failure (ARF) is only possible in the presence of myoglobin, liberated by the muscle cells, and of hypovolemia/renal hypoperfusion. One of the most important complications of this entity is electrolyte disturbance (hyperkalemia, hypocalcemia, metabolic acidosis), that can be aggravated by the establishment of ARF. The diagnosis of rhabdomyolysis relies on the elevation of creatine kinase and on the presence of myoglobinuria. The main therapeutic goals are removal of precipitating factors, handling of biochemical complications, prevention and treatment of ARF using renal replacement techniques when necessary. Early diagnosis and treatment are of critical importance in epidemic forms of rhabdomyolysis (e. g. earthquakes) often associated with ARF. In this setting, the quick access to the dialysis equipment and human resources can be compromised and conservative measures, as an early and vigorous hydratation associated with a forced alkaline diuresis, can improve the prognosis of this complication.

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