Augmented renal clearance in pediatric intensive care: are we undertreating our sickest patients?

Pediatr Nephrol. 2020 Jan;35(1):25-39. doi: 10.1007/s00467-018-4120-2. Epub 2018 Oct 29.


Many critically ill patients display a supraphysiological renal function with enhanced renal perfusion and glomerular hyperfiltration. This phenomenon described as augmented renal clearance (ARC) may result in enhanced drug elimination through renal excretion mechanisms. Augmented renal clearance seems to be triggered by systemic inflammation and therapeutic interventions in intensive care. There is growing evidence that ARC is not restricted to the adult intensive care population, but is also prevalent in critically ill children. Augmented renal clearance is often overlooked due to the lack of reliable methods to assess renal function in critically ill children. Standard equations to calculate glomerular filtration rate (GFR) are developed for patients who have a steady-state creatinine production and a stable renal function. Those formulas are not reliable in critically ill patients with acutely changing GFR and tend to underestimate true GFR in patients with ARC. Tools for real-time, continuous, and non-invasive measurement of fluctuating GFR are most needed to identify changes in kidney function during critical illness and therapeutic interventions. Such devices are currently being validated and hold a strong potential to become the standard of practice. In the meantime, urinary creatinine clearance is considered the most reliable method to detect ARC in critically ill patients. Augmented renal clearance is clearly associated with subtherapeutic antimicrobial concentrations and subsequent therapeutic failure. This warrants the need for adjusted dosing regimens to optimize pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic target attainment. This review aims to summarize current knowledge on ARC in critically ill children, to give insight into its possible pathophysiological mechanism, to evaluate screening methods for ARC in the pediatric intensive care population, and to illustrate the effect of ARC on drug exposure, therapeutic efficacy, and clinical outcome.

Keywords: Augmented renal clearance; Children; Critical illness; Glomerular filtration rate; Intensive care; Renal drug clearance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Creatinine / analysis
  • Creatinine / metabolism
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Kidney Function Tests / methods
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Renal Elimination / physiology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Creatinine