Multiparametric ultrasound findings in acute kidney failure due to rare renal cortical necrosis

Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 21;11(1):2060. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-81690-x.


Renal cortical necrosis (RCN) is a rare cause of acute kidney failure and is usually diagnosed on the basis of characteristic enhancement patterns on cross-sectional imaging. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) offers benefits in patients with kidney failure in the clinical setting including the use of a nonnephrotoxic intravascular contrast agent and the fact that it can be performed at the bedside in critical cases. Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate whether CEUS can reliably identify typical imaging features of RCN. We retrospectively analyzed 12 patients with RCN examined in our department and confirmation of the diagnosis by either histopathology, other contrast-enhanced cross-sectional imaging tests, and/or CEUS follow-up. Assessed parameters in conventional US were reduced echogenicity, loss of corticomedullary differentiation, length and width of kidney, hypoechoic rim, resistance index and in CEUS delayed wash-in of contrast agent (> 20 s), reverse rim sign, maximum nonenhancing rim and additional renal infarction. Furthermore, imaging features in RCN were compared with the findings in renal vein thrombosis (RVT), among them echogenicity, corticomedullar differentiation, hypoechoic rim, RI value, delayed cortical enhancement, total loss of cortical perfusion and enhancement of renal medulla. All 12 patients showed the reverse rim sign, while a hypoechogenic subcapsular rim was only visible in four patients on B-mode ultrasound. A resistance index (RI) was available in 10 cases and was always less than 1. RI was a strong differentiator in separating RVT from RCN (RI > 1 or not measurable due to hypoperfusion as differentiator, p = 0.001). CEUS showed total loss of medullary enhancement in all cases of RVT. With its higher temporal resolution, CEUS allows dynamic assessment of renal macro- and microcirculation and identification of the typical imaging findings of RCN with use of a nonnephrotoxic contrast agent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / diagnosis*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / diagnostic imaging
  • Acute Kidney Injury / etiology
  • Acute Kidney Injury / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Cortex Necrosis / complications
  • Kidney Cortex Necrosis / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Cortex Necrosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Kidney Cortex Necrosis / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rare Diseases / complications
  • Rare Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Rare Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Rare Diseases / pathology
  • Ultrasonography*


  • Contrast Media