Rhabdomyolysis: Revisited

Ulster Med J. 2021 May;90(2):61-69. Epub 2021 Jul 8.


Rhabdomyolysis (RML) is a pathological entity characterized by symptoms of myalgia, weakness and dark urine (which is often not present) resulting in respiratory failure and altered mental status. Laboratory testing for myoglobinuria is pathognomonic but so often not present during the time of testing that serum creatine kinase should always be sent when the diagnosis is suspected. Kidney injury from RML progresses through multiform pathways resulting in acute tubular necrosis. Early treatment (ideally<6 hoursfrom onset) is needed with volume expansion of all non-overloaded patients along with avoidance of nephrotoxins. There is insufficient data to recommend any specific fluid. The mortality rate ranges from 10% to up to 50% with severe AKI, so high index of suspicion and screening should be in care plan of seriously ill patients at risk for RML.

Keywords: Rhabdomyolysis; acute kidney injury; pathophysiology; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury* / diagnosis
  • Acute Kidney Injury* / etiology
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Myoglobinuria*
  • Rhabdomyolysis* / diagnosis
  • Rhabdomyolysis* / etiology
  • Rhabdomyolysis* / therapy


  • Creatine Kinase