Stage 1 acute kidney injury is independently associated with infection following cardiac surgery

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2021 Apr;161(4):1346-1355.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2019.11.004. Epub 2019 Nov 25.


Objectives: Severe acute kidney injury (AKI) is a known risk factor for infection and mortality. However, whether stage 1 AKI is a risk factor for infection has not been evaluated in adults. We hypothesized that stage 1 AKI following cardiac surgery would independently associate with infection and mortality.

Methods: In this retrospective propensity score-matched study, we evaluated 1620 adult patients who underwent nonemergent cardiac surgery at the University of Colorado Hospital from 2011 to 2017. Patients who developed stage 1 AKI by Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes creatinine criteria within 72 hours of surgery were matched to patients who did not develop AKI. The primary outcome was an infection, defined as a new surgical-site infection, positive blood or urine culture, or development of pneumonia. Secondary outcomes included in-hospital mortality, stroke, and intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital length of stay (LOS).

Results: Stage 1 AKI occurred in 293 patients (18.3%). Infection occurred in 20.9% of patients with stage 1 AKI compared with 8.1% in the no-AKI group (P < .001). In propensity-score matched analysis, stage 1 AKI independently associated with increased infection (odds ratio [OR]; 2.24, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.37-3.17), ICU LOS (OR, 2.38; 95% CI, 1.71-3.31), and hospital LOS (OR, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.17-1.45).

Conclusions: Stage 1 AKI is independently associated with postoperative infection, ICU LOS, and hospital LOS. Treatment strategies focused on prevention, early recognition, and optimal medical management of AKI may decrease significant postoperative morbidity.

Keywords: acute kidney injury; cardiac surgery; cardiopulmonary bypass; postoperative complications; postoperative infection; propensity-score matching.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / complications
  • Acute Kidney Injury / epidemiology*
  • Aged
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infections / complications
  • Infections / epidemiology*
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Propensity Score
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stroke / epidemiology