Clinical accuracy of RIFLE and Acute Kidney Injury Network (AKIN) criteria for acute kidney injury in patients undergoing cardiac surgery

Crit Care. 2011;15(1):R16. doi: 10.1186/cc9960. Epub 2011 Jan 13.


Introduction: The RIFLE (risk, injury, failure, loss of kidney function, and end-stage renal failure) classification for acute kidney injury (AKI) was recently modified by the Acute Kidney Injury Network (AKIN). The two definition systems differ in several aspects, and it is not clearly determined which has the better clinical accuracy.

Methods: In a retrospective observational study we investigated 4,836 consecutive patients undergoing cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass from 2005 to 2007 at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA. AKI was defined by RIFLE and AKIN criteria.

Results: Significantly more patients were diagnosed as AKI by AKIN (26.3%) than by RIFLE (18.9%) criteria (P < 0.0001). Both definitions showed excellent association to outcome variables with worse outcome by increased severity of AKI (P < 0.001, all variables). Mortality was increased with an odds ratio (OR) of 4.5 (95% CI 3.6 to 5.6) for one class increase by RIFLE and an OR of 5.3 (95% CI 4.3 to 6.6) for one stage increase by AKIN. The multivariate model showed lower predictive ability of RIFLE for mortality. Patients classified as AKI in one but not in the other definition set were predominantly staged in the lowest AKI severity class (9.6% of patients in AKIN stage 1, 2.3% of patients in RIFLE class R). Potential misclassification of AKI is higher in AKIN, which is related to moving the 48-hour diagnostic window applied in AKIN criteria only. The greatest disagreement between both definition sets could be detected in patients with initial postoperative decrease of serum creatinine.

Conclusions: Modification of RIFLE by staging of all patients with acute renal replacement therapy (RRT) in the failure class F may improve predictive value. AKIN applied in patients undergoing cardiac surgery without correction of serum creatinine for fluid balance may lead to over-diagnosis of AKI (poor positive predictive value). Balancing limitations of both definition sets of AKI, we suggest application of the RIFLE criteria in patients undergoing cardiac surgery.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / classification*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / diagnosis*
  • Aged
  • Cardiopulmonary Bypass
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index*


  • Creatinine