Acute renal failure complicating severe preeclampsia requiring admission to an obstetric intensive care unit

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Feb;186(2):253-6. doi: 10.1067/mob.2002.120279.


Objective: To determine risk factors and outcomes for women with severe preeclampsia and renal failure.

Study design: Retrospective study from 1995 to 1998 of all women with renal failure who were admitted to the obstetric intensive care unit at Groote Schuur Hospital, South Africa. A total of 89 women were identified with severe preeclampsia defined as blood pressure > or = 160/110 mm Hg and > or = 2+ proteinuria, renal failure defined as a creatinine level of > or = 1.13 mg/dL, and oliguria defined as < 100 mL urine produced in 4 hours; 72 charts were available for analysis. A comparison was made between the 3 groups, which were defined by the maximum recorded creatinine levels.

Results: Of the 72 women, 31 women (43%) were primiparous and 41 (57%) were multiparous. Median gestation at delivery was 32 weeks (range, 21-40 weeks). The median maximum creatinine was 3.85 mg/dL (range, 1.13-12.50 mg/dL). Twelve women (16%) had a history of chronic renal disease or hypertension, and 36 women (50%) had HELLP syndrome and 23 (32%) abruptio placentae. All women with severe renal impairment had either abruptio placentae or hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count (HELLP) syndrome. Perinatal mortality was 38% (27/72). However, in this series only 7 women (10%) required dialysis in the short term and none required long-term dialysis or kidney transplant. There were no maternal deaths.

Conclusions: In women with severe preeclampsia and renal failure, major obstetric complications were common and perinatal outcome was poor. However, the need for dialysis was infrequent, with only 10% women requiring transient dialysis, and there were no cases of chronic renal failure that required dialysis or kidney transplant.

MeSH terms

  • Abruptio Placentae / complications
  • Acute Kidney Injury / etiology*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / therapy
  • Female
  • HELLP Syndrome / complications
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / etiology
  • Obstetrics*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / complications*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index