Fluid balance and acute kidney injury

Nat Rev Nephrol. 2010 Feb;6(2):107-15. doi: 10.1038/nrneph.2009.213. Epub 2009 Dec 22.


Intravenous fluids are widely administered to patients who have, or are at risk of, acute kidney injury (AKI). However, deleterious consequences of overzealous fluid therapy are increasingly being recognized. Salt and water overload can predispose to organ dysfunction, impaired wound healing and nosocomial infection, particularly in patients with AKI, in whom fluid challenges are frequent and excretion is impaired. In this Review article, we discuss how interstitial edema can further delay renal recovery and why conservative fluid strategies are now being advocated. Applying these strategies in critical illness is challenging. Although volume resuscitation is needed to restore cardiac output, it often leads to tissue edema, thereby contributing to ongoing organ dysfunction. Conservative strategies of fluid management mandate a switch towards neutral balance and then negative balance once hemodynamic stabilization is achieved. In patients with AKI, this strategy might require renal replacement therapy to be given earlier than when more-liberal fluid management is used. However, hypovolemia and renal hypoperfusion can occur in patients with AKI if excessive fluid removal is pursued with diuretics or extracorporeal therapy. Thus, accurate assessment of fluid status and careful definition of targets are needed at all stages to improve clinical outcomes. A conservative strategy of fluid management was recently tested and found to be effective in a large, randomized, controlled trial in patients with acute lung injury. Similar randomized, controlled studies in patients with AKI now seem justified.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / therapy*
  • Fluid Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic