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Evidenced Based Management: A Journey for Physicians

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  1. Historical Perspective, Epidemiology, and Methodology
  2. Overview of the SCD guidelines and chapters
  3. Process and methodology
  4. Consensus Statements
  5. Clinical Practice Guidelines and the institute of Medicine
  6. Prevention of invasive infection
  7. Screening for Renal Disease
  8. Electrocardiogram Screening
  9. Screening for hypertension
  10. Screening for Retinopathy
  11. Screening for risk of stroke using neuroimaging
  12. Screening for Pulmonary disease
  13. Reproductive counseling
  14. Contraception
  15. Clinical Preventive services
  16. Immunizations
  17. Vaso-Occlusive Crisis
  18. Fever
  19. Acute Renal Failure
  20. Priapism
  21. Hepatobiliary Complications
  22. Acute Anemia
  23. Splenic Sequestration
  24. Acute Chest Syndrome
  25. Acute Stroke
  26. Multisystem Organ Failure
  27. Acute Ocular Conditions
  28. Chronic pain
  29. Avascular Necrosis
  30. Leg Ulcers
  31. Pulmonary Hypertension
  32. Renal Complications
  33. Stuttering/Recurrent Priapism
  34. Ophthalmologic Complications
  35. Summary of the Evidence
  36. Hydroxurea Treatment Recommendations
  37. Consensus Treatment Protocol and Technical remarks for the implementation of Hydroxyurea Therapy
  38. Indications for transfusions
  39. Recommendations for Acute and Chronic Transfusion Therapy
  40. Appropriate Management/ Monitoring
  41. Consensus Protocol for Monitoring Individuals on Chronic Transfusion Therapy
  42. Complications of Transfusions
  43. Recommendations for the Management and Prevention of Transfusion Complications
  44. New Research is Needed
  45. Data Systems That Meet the Highest Standards of Scientific Rigor Can Be Invaluable
  46. Improved Phenotyping is needed
  47. Broad collaborations for Research and Care
  48. Beyond Efficacy
  49. Look, Listen, Empathize and Ask
Lesson 19 of 49
In Progress

Acute Renal Failure

SCFA_Coach September 25, 2023

Acute renal failure (ARF) is defined here as a rapid reduction in renal function manifested by a rise in serum creatinine and reduction in glomerular filtration rate (GFR), with or without a decline in urine output. ARF may be due to pre-renal (e.g., dehydration) or post-renal (e.g., obstruction) insults, or result from intrinsic renal disease (e.g., glomerular injury). ARF may occur during an acute VOC, most often in association with ACS or acute multisystem organ failure (MSOF).

Renal papillary necrosis due to medullary infarction from obstruction of the blood supply in the vasa recta affects up to 15-30 percent of individuals with SCD. Signs and symptoms include flank pain and hematuria. When present, fever suggests possible superinfection.

ARF may also occur when individuals with chronic sickle cell nephropathy or other chronic kidney diseases are exposed to nephrotoxic medications (e.g., NSAIDs or intravenous contrast dye) or become dehydrated. People with SCD often display a relative inability to maximally concentrate the urine, resulting in increased vulnerability to pre-renal azoternia.

Due to increased renal tubular secretion of creatinine, serum creatinine values in SCD do not rise until significant renal impairment occurs (GFR of30 mL/rnin or less). Since the serum creatinine levels are generally low or low-normal in individuals with SCD, the values in ARF may still be within normal limits even if they have doubled from baseline. It is important to consider non-SCD-related causes of ARF before simply attributing ARF to SCD.

When associated with acute MSOF attributed to diffuse vaso-occlusion, ARF may respond to exchange red blood cell transfusion. However, the benefit of transfusion for other causes of ARF in SCD has not been reported. Acute and chronic renal replacement therapy, including hemodialysis, is well-tolerated by people with SCD and should be used when indicated.

Key Question

Summary of the Evidence
The systematic review did not identify comparative studies to demonstrate the superiority of a particular diagnostic or therapeutic approach to ARF in people with SCD. The literature in this area was mostly descriptive of people who developed renal complications (e.g., hyposthenuria, hematuria, impaired urinary potassium excretion and acidification, tubular and glomerular dysfunction, infection, medullary carcinoma, acute necrosis and renal failure).

One RCT, six observational studies, and nine case reports addressing both acute and chronic complications were evaluated. There were no RCTs that addressed acute complications and the single RCT addressed chronic complications; acute renal complications were only discussed in five retrospective observational case

No controlled trials or prospective studies addressed the recognition or management of acute renal failure in people with SCD, and few studies addressed evaluation or treatment of renal complications of SCD. The systematic review did not identify any literature to guide diagnostic or management recommendations for renal papillary necrosis. Therefore, management recommendations are based on the application of therapies for ARF from other patient populations to people with SCD as noted in the observational reports.


In the setting of an acute rise in serum creatinine of 0.3 mg/dL,
Monitor renal function daily, including serum creatinine and fluid intake/output. (Consensus-Panel Expertise)

Avoid potential nephrotoxic drugs and imaging agents. (Consensus-Panel Expertise)

Evaluate the patient thoroughly for all potential etiologies in consultation with a nephrologist as needed.(Consensus-Panel Expertise)

Do not give blood transfusions to treat ARF unless there are other indications for transfusion. (Consensus-Panel Expertise)

Use renal replacement therapy (e.g., hemodialysis) when needed for acute renal failure.
(Consensus-Panel Expertise)