Financial Impact of Acute Kidney Injury After Cardiac Operations in the United States

Ann Thorac Surg. 2018 Feb;105(2):469-475. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2017.10.053. Epub 2017 Dec 21.


Background: Acute kidney injury (AKI) after major cardiac operations is a potentially avoidable complication associated with increased morbidity, death, and costly long-term treatment. The financial impact of AKI at the population level has not been well defined. We sought to determine the incremental index hospital cost associated with the development of AKI.

Methods: All patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) or valve replacement operations, or both (clinical classification software codes 43 and 44), between 2008 and 2011 were identified from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample. AKI was identified using International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification diagnosis codes (584.xx); patients with chronic renal failure were excluded. Mean total index hospitalization costs were compared between patients with and without AKI.

Results: At the population level, 1,078,036 individuals underwent major cardiac procedures from 2008 to 2011, with AKI developing in 105,648 (9.8%). Specifically, AKI developed in 8.0% of CABG, 11.4% of valve replacement, and 17.0% of CABG plus valve replacement patients (p < 0.001). Death was more common among patients with AKI vs those without (13.9% vs 1.3%, p < 0.001). Mean total index hospitalization cost was $77,178 for patients with AKI vs $38,820 for those without (p < 0.001). At the national level, the overall incremental annual index hospitalization cost associated with AKI was $1.01 billion.

Conclusions: AKI developed in 1 in every 10 patients nationwide after a cardiac operation. Achieving a 10% reduction in AKI in this population would likely result in an annual savings of approximately $100,000,000 in index-hospital costs alone. Support for research on mechanisms to detect impending damage and prevent AKI may lead to reduced patient morbidity and death and to substantial health care cost savings.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / economics*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / epidemiology
  • Acute Kidney Injury / etiology
  • Aged
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hospital Costs*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / economics*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology