Acute cortical necrosis in pregnancy still an important cause for end-stage renal disease in developing countries

Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl. 2019 Mar-Apr;30(2):325-333. doi: 10.4103/1319-2442.256839.


Renal cortical necrosis (RCN) is a serious complication of acute kidney injury (AKI) and pregnancy is a clinical state closely associated with it with poor renal outcomes. The incidence is much higher in obstetrical AKI compared to other causes of RCN. Despite better medical care facilities available, this continues to be an important cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries. This is a retrospective analysis among all pregnant females presenting with AKI from January 1999 to December 2014 at a tertiary care center in the northern part of India. We looked for the incidence of obstetrical-related RCN in our renal biopsies performed in the last 15 years and to evaluate precipitating factors responsible for RCN. RCN constituted 8.3% of pregnancy-related AKI cases in our institution. The overall incidence has been declining which was 9.09% from 1999 to 2008 to 7.8% from 2009 to 2014. The patient's median age was 29.3 ± 5.2 years. The average time to presentation from the day of delivery was 8.7 ±2.1 days. The mortality was observed in 11.7% of them with sepsis and multiorgan dysfunction present in all of them. The most common etiology for RCN was found to be septic abortion and puerperal sepsis accounting for - 15.3% each. Postpartum hemorrhage was a cause in 9.09% of patients. The most important cause of RCN was postpartum thrombotic microangiopathy which was observed in 48.7% of patients. Kidney biopsy was helpful in diagnosis in 31 patients while computed tomography scan abdomen alone helped in diagnosis in five patients. Patchy cortical necrosis in histology was seen in 35.4% of patients and morbidity in terms of prolonged hospitalization was seen in 22.7% while dialysis dependency in 61.5% of the study population. In conclusion, strategies need to be implemented in reducing the preventable causes for RCN which is not only catastrophic in terms of renal outcomes but also for social and psychological perspectives as well.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Septic / epidemiology
  • Abortion, Septic / etiology
  • Acute Kidney Injury / complications
  • Acute Kidney Injury / pathology
  • Adult
  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • India / epidemiology
  • Kidney Cortex Necrosis / complications*
  • Kidney Cortex Necrosis / epidemiology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / etiology*
  • Maternal Mortality
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / mortality
  • Puerperal Infection / epidemiology
  • Puerperal Infection / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult