Rhabdomyolysis: a review, with emphasis on the pediatric population

Pediatr Nephrol. 2010 Jan;25(1):7-18. doi: 10.1007/s00467-009-1223-9.


Rhabdomyolysis is a common clinical syndrome and accounts for 7% of all cases of acute kidney injury (AKI) in the USA. It can result from a wide variety of disorders, such as trauma, exercise, medications and infection, but in the pediatric population, infection and inherited disorders are the most common causes of rhabdomyolysis. Approximately half of patients with rhabdomyolysis present with the triad of myalgias, weakness and dark urine. The clinical suspicion, especially in the setting of trauma or drugs, is supported by elevated creatinine kinase levels and confirmed by the measurement of myoglobin levels in serum or urine. Muscle biopsy and genetic testing should be performed if rhabdomyolysis is recurrent or metabolic myopathy is suspected. Early recognition is important to prevent AKI through the use of aggressive hydration. Prevention is important in patients with inherited forms, but novel therapies may be developed with the better understanding of the pathophysiology and genetics of rhabdomyolysis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / etiology
  • Acute Kidney Injury / pathology*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / physiopathology
  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Creatine Kinase / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Muscle Weakness / complications
  • Muscle Weakness / pathology
  • Muscle Weakness / physiopathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Myoglobin / metabolism
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / pathology
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Rhabdomyolysis / complications
  • Rhabdomyolysis / pathology*
  • Rhabdomyolysis / physiopathology
  • Syndrome


  • Myoglobin
  • Creatine Kinase