The Kidney in Pregnancy: A Journey of Three Decades

Indian J Nephrol. 2012 May;22(3):159-67. doi: 10.4103/0971-4065.98750.

Abstract

The spectrum of kidney disease occurring during pregnancy includes preeclampsia, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, urinary tract infection, acute kidney injury, and renal cortical necrosis (RCN). Preeclampsia affects approximately 3-5% of pregnancies. We observed preeclampsia in 5.8% of pregnancies, and 2.38% of our preeclamptic women developed eclampsia. Severe preeclampsia and the eclampsia or hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes levels, and low platelets count (HELLP) syndrome accounted for about 40% of cases of acute kidney injury (AKI) in pregnancy. Preeclampsia/eclampsia was the cause of acute renal failure (ARF) in 38.3% of the cases. Preeclampsia was the most common (91.7%) cause of hypertension during pregnancy, and chronic hypertension was present in 8.3% of patients. We observed urinary tract infection (UTI) in 9% of pregnancies. Sepsis resulting from pyelonephritis can progress to endotoxic shock, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and AKI. The incidence of premature delivery and low birth weight is higher in women with UTI. The incidence of AKI in pregnancy with respect to total ARF cases has decreased over the last 30 years from 25% in 1980s to 5% in 2000s. Septic abortion-related ARF decreased from 9% to 3%. Prevention of unwanted pregnancy and avoidance of septic abortion are key to eliminate abortion-associated ARF in early pregnancy. The two most common causes of ARF in third trimester and postpartum periods were puerperal sepsis and preeclampsia/HELLP syndrome. Pregnancy-associated thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura/hemolytic uremic syndrome and acute fatty liver of pregnancy were rare causes of ARF. Despite decreasing incidence, AKI remains a serious complication during pregnancy.

Keywords: Acute kidney injury; kidney disease; preeclampsia; pregnancy; renal cortical necrosis.